Disk and tape storage capacity in data centers continues to grow at accelerated rates. With an ever-increasing requirement to align IT with the business, you can’t afford to ignore how storage impacts your business. Since the average raw cost of mainframe DASD is hovering around 2 cents per MB, it might seem as if the cost of storage is cheap. However, when you consider the tremendous amounts of storage being acquired, even at 2 cents per MB, the total cost becomes significant. But beyond the cost of the hardware, the total cost of storage also includes costs for managing storage, such as infrastructure build-out and support and software management costs. The result is that storage—including storage management—is the single largest line item in the IT budget, and for good reason: The data stored on disk and tape must be kept valid and easily accessible in order to keep many important business processes running. In other words, ineffective storage management leads to an ineffective business.

One way to ensure an optimized storage environment is to monitor service quality. Poor service in the storage environment can result in financial penalties or lost revenue. Understanding those costs are key in determining if your solutions are providing effective results. In one case, a company determined they were suffering periodic outages as a result of storage-related problems. When they calculated the cost of lost revenue based on each minute they were unable to service their customers and considered the percent of outages they could eliminate with good storage management practices, the company found $672,750 a year in availability savings.

As this case illustrates, outages and infrastructure costs drive up the total cost of storage to the business. Through implementing good data management processes, a company can minimize the total cost of ownership and better serve the business.

One way to promote effective management of the storage environment is by setting data policies that are easy to understand, executable, and closely aligned to business processes. Just as the business doesn’t run off test data, neither should your IT department manage test data the same as production. Understanding who owns and uses the data allows the IT department to map to critical business functions and lets the business continue without interruption.

One of the best ways to prioritize the functions is by using naming standards. Naming standards assist in organizing the data into distinct categories where policies can be assigned and reflect the various lines of business. All too often, there’s more than one storage-related problem reported, but IT is unable to determine which one is the most critical. Without having the data and storage infrastructure aligned to the business, the wrong problem may receive all the resources for resolution, leaving the business to suffer.

Automating  repetitive tasks also enables IT to become more focused on the goals of the business. Spending a large amount of time manually monitoring the storage environment and the associated data adds unnecessary responsibilities and tasks to a workforce that’s being asked to do more. Automation also can be used to silo business practices, preventing or resolving problems that would impact the more important areas of the business. Additionally, automated processes are important in preventing problems. Autonomic storage management, one that learns from historically collected data, will manage the storage infrastructure more efficiently. This learning process will lead to fewer problems in the future. Because your policies are based on criticality to the business, automation will determine the appropriate prioritization of the actions to take.

For IT to be a partner in the business, the storage environment must be aligned to the various units within the business. It’s important to know if your storage environment is performing as it should. Instituting easyto- follow policies, replacing repetitive tasks, and preventing outages with automation will lead to a successful storage infrastructure that works and grows along with the business. Z