Storage Allocation in Your Data Center
48 States in Nine Days
Last summer I packed up my motorcycle to do an Iron Butt Association ride. The IBA is an organization of motorcyclists who like to ride long distances in relatively short time frames. Rides are certified by time stamped receipts, verifying you rode where you say you rode.
My goal last summer was to complete a "48 - 10", a ride through all lower 48 states in less than 10 days. I started in Washington and ended in Montana 9 days and 3 hours later.
One of the challenges of a motorcycle ride like the 48 - 10 is packing for a trip with limited storage space. You can't afford to waste any time on the ride, and you can't afford to waste any storage space. You really have to allocate your storage areas properly.
I have found that the natural tendency is to fill up any available storage space you have. I've also found that this is not the best way to pack. You must leave some empty space, because invariably you pick up things along the way that you can't live without, like souvenirs or other odds and ends that you didn't know you'd need, or that you just plain forgot.
So, my rule now is to leave some room in every storage area for the times where I absolutely must have more space while out on the road. It's a waste of space I know, but it's better than not having it when I need it, and I know I'll need it some time.
Now, on to the Data Center
Allocating storage area on my bike reminded me of all those bytes of information in our data centers. Everyone wants their share of storage space, and enough extra so they don't run out, so you allocate more than enough to cover the future, unknown needs. That is the traditional way to safe guard against running out of application space.
It works, but it definitely has drawbacks, especially in this age of exploding data growth. It is becoming harder to predict how much storage is needed, so therefore the traditional answer is allocate more app space, which means you need to buy more storage. Just keep adding discs. More storage means adding more resources to look after it. More racks to fill up space in your data center, too. Not to mention the expense of the additional power and cooling you need.
Fat Provisioning vs. Thin Provisioning
This legacy way of provisioning storage space is inefficient and a waste of money and resources. This is Fat Provisioning.
Thin Provisioning, on the other hand, is much more effective. HP 3PAR is autonomic (self-regulating). You don't have to over-allocate to be safe, and you don't have to manually oversee the provisioning either. The 3PAR technology is designed in, not bolted on. As more storage is needed, it is systematically provisioned to that application. HP even guarantees that you can get by on 50% of what you traditionally would need with other storage solutions.
This means less wasted storage, less rack space, less power usage, less system admin resources and less cooling - all undeniably valuable benefits in the enterprise space.