Storage is one of those infrastructure needs that can expand at a faster pace than the company in which it’s needed. In fact, some companies report 20% to 55% year-over-year growth in storage and those numbers aren’t likely to get any smaller. With the move to centralized and virtualized infrastructures as well as an increasingly global workforce, a lot of companies are looking to consolidate their storage and increase flexibility. At the same time, IT professionals are being asked to manage larger networks with fewer resources and may be wondering whether it is really worth the move to a storage-area network (SAN). The short answer is yes.
The big question facing organizations deciding on the best upgrade path for their infrastructure is cost. SANs typically require more upfront investment than a similar DAS or NAS configuration and the larger upfront cost coming out of IT budgets will definitely give any IT professional pause. Many will be surprised to learn that most companies will see a return on investment (ROI) within the first year after a SAN deployment. The savings derived from implementing SAN storage are typically realized in cost avoidance and other cost reductions due to the efficiency and ease of management.
Consolidating storage to a SAN architecture will significantly reduce the number of physical drives connected to the system. This is especially true of legacy DAS or NAS systems that have lower storage density than the current generation of hardware. Companies will see significant cost savings due to the reduction in maintenance required for SANs. Example studies have shown savings in maintenance costs that totaled upwards of 50% of the total cost of implementation, year-over-year. This also leads to cost savings in the data center. The consolidated footprint of SAN systems can defer the expansion of data centers and allow companies to get the most storage out of their current footprint.
The next method of cost avoidance results from benefits in increased storage usage. The flexible and centralized nature of SAN deployment creates a significant cost savings by enabling the use of currently owned storage that was unused previously. This also allows companies to defer future storage expansions and further reduce data center footprint. It also yields a saving in total cost of ownership (TCO) for the storage, reducing the per megabyte cost, especially when you factor in your company’s estimated rate of growth and economies of scale.
Another bonus that a company will see from the implementation of a SAN system is direct cost reductions due to operational efficiencies and management methods. These are primarily realized in the number of managed storage switches needed to control the devices. The reduction in hardware requirements not only costs less upfront but they also mean that there are fewer physical devices that require human interaction and maintenance.
A company can also see greater operational efficiencies when deploying a SAN that incorporates unified management software that will enable huge cost savings in the human capital expenses. Current DAS and NAS systems require extensive setup and management of storage through different software systems. Utilizing a unified management approach allows each storage administrator to manage roughly double the amount of terabytes compared to a DAS or NAS system.
All of these combined factors allow for huge cost savings and ROI for companies switching to a SAN architecture. It’s also important the note that the amount of savings over time will increase year-over-year as the maintenance expenses are significantly lower. SANs are also much easier to expand and grow as your company’s storage needs increase over time. All of these expenses and savings translate into a solution that requires slightly more capital expenditure on implementation but greatly reduces operational expenditures year-after-year. When you look at the benefits of a SAN as a whole and do the math, a SAN system will come out on top for a company looking for a solution that is cost-effective and can meet all of their storage needs.