Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Fast Food Storage Provisioning

Yesterday I discussed beating the credit crunch by getting your house in order. This was picked up my Marc Farley over at StorageRap and he posted accordingly. Marc, thanks for the additional comments, I will be reviewing the diagram accordingly based on your thoughts.

Moving on, think to yourself does this sound familiar?

Storage requests come in over time in a constant but unpredictable rate. When they arrive, you just provision them. Perhaps you check the requestor can "pay" for their storage (i.e. is authorised to request) but generally, storage is provisioned pretty much on demand. When you run out of storage, there's a minor panic and rush to place new hardware orders and then in a few weeks you're back in the game and provisioning again.

Welcome to Fast Food Storage Provisioning! I was going to use a brand name in this post, but then decided against it. After all, as these guys know, you're just asking for trouble.

How does this compare to storage? Easy. You walk into a fast food place and they're just there waiting to serve you, no questions asked, as long as you pay. They may have what you require ready, but if not, there's a panic in the kitchen area to cook what you want and so a delay in the delivery of your request. Those customers who eat food/storage every day become "overprovisioned" in both senses of the word.

Clearly Fast Food establishments have a vested interest in acquiring more customers as it builds their profits, however unless you are selling a service, storage growth is bad for the bottom line.

So, how about taking a few steps to make sure that storage is really needed?

  • When do you need the storage by? Poor project planning means storage requests can be placed long before servers and HBAs have even been delivered, never mind racked and configured.
  • Can the storage be delivered to you in increments? Most users who request 20TB immediately will never actually use it for days or weeks (in extreme cases may never use it all).
  • Have you checked your existing server to see if you have free storage? You would be amazed how many users have free LUNs on their servers they didn't know were there.
  • What exactly is your requirement in detail? How will you use what we give you? By questioning the request, you can find out if users have simply doubled the estimate of required storage given to them by the DBA. Get to the real deal on what growth is anticipated.

I'm not advocating saying no to customers, just to be confident that what you're deploying is what you need. Then you won't have that guilty feeling ordering another burger - I mean array...


Jeff said...

You forgot to mention the Fast Food Manager's reaction when the bus full of kids on the visiting High School football team or marching band rolls through town late at night. Suddenly you have an unforseen need of 300 burgers to throw on the grill. How does that affect the next day's requirements and forcasting?

Chris M Evans said...

Jeff, exactly right - unplanned/unforecast demand - resources get completely depleted and suddenly questions are being asked about what kind of business you're running!!