Disk reclamation wrap-up

Judging by my e-mail, my recent newsletters about disk reclamation has struck a chord. As we wrap up this topic, let's tie together a few loose ends and look to the future.

You may recall I recommended tactics that let you:

1. Eliminate improper use of space on existing disks.

2. Not buy any disks next quarter (you probably will have saved more than enough space in step 1 to accommodate whatever your quarterly growth rate may be).

3. Put the money saved by in step 2 towards the purchase of storage resource management (SRM) software, which this writer has seen will return significant value for your investment. In extreme cases (for example, sites that have automatic quarterly purchases of multiple high-speed disks), the payback may be almost immediate.

So, the short-range objective enables a long-term strategy.

Those of you who repeatedly build into your budgets quarterly expenditures for disk purchase against anticipated demand for capacity understand the premise. And of course, those of you who have no idea how much of your disk space is really allocated improperly feel a vague uneasiness (at the very least) that something out there in the computer room is waiting to bite you.

We then spent a few columns describing how to implement step one - by hand, no less (keep in mind that these recommendations are only intended to be stopgaps). Several folks e-mailed me, pointing out that obviously we can't strip out all the space eaters, as WAV and GIF files are often used by the applications. A good point, the moral of which (hopefully an obvious one) is to exercise appropriate restraint when implementing most general rules.

In this case, "restraint" perhaps takes the form of removing potentially offending file formats from user space only. As application-related files will usually be located in some well identified directory hierarchy, that shouldn't be too difficult a task. And clearly, as Logan from California pointed out, some departments will of necessity need such files to do their jobs.

A number of vendors wrote to tell me they already have similar functionality as a part of their software offerings. Once you have started saving money through the nonpurchase of disks, you certainly should investigate some of these. I won't recommend any here (although several correspondents found some they were happy with), but the truth is definitely out there if you want to implement something like this.

As for the long haul, what should we start to expect from the vendors in the SRM community? Here are three items you might want to put near the top of your checklist with regard to space utilization:

1. Space management should mean more than just quota management.

It should also give you the ability to limit inappropriate files from specified areas of storage.

2. Data must be automatically allocated to disk based on the user's definition of the data's importance to the business.

Critical information should be automatically sent to high performance devices, less important stuff should be passed down the line to cheaper devices, and everything should be continually monitored.

3. Everything should be manageable from a central, remote point.

No matter where you are, no matter where the data resides, you should have control over your assets, resources and utilization, and have a good view of the events that are impacting each of these.

And your responsibility when you implement such a system will be to make sure all policies that are implemented reflect the needs of the storage administrators, the application admins, and the managers from the business groups that their teams support.

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