This is the second part of this three-part article on how the Zextras storage management system also known as Powerstore reduces your storage costs. Here you’ll learn about different features of Zextras Powerstore that besides their own benefits and functionalities they also help you cut the cost of data storage via optimizing storage usage. These features are:
- Item deduplication,
- File compression,
- Hierarchical storage management,
- Cloud storage.
First, let’s take a look at each feature to see how much they contribute to savings.
Zextras storage management introduces item deduplication that stores each item only once and it will only be referenced if it is needed in other locations. This leads to huge savings in terms of space especially in servers with a large number of objects.
Data deduplication plays a crucial role in affordability, considering the explosive growth of data nowadays. Storage cost savings is only one of the benefits of deduplication. Benefits of deduplication can be summarized in:
- Reducing storage equipment expenses,
- Reducing storage floor space,
- Reducing storage power consumption,
- Reducing labor costs,
- Optimizing storage usage,
- Improving server performance,
- Eliminates the need for regular storage expansion.
This increase in efficiency and effectiveness of the storage helps corporations to remove constraints on data growth, improve their service levels leading to improve their competitiveness.
The amount of duplicated data indicates how much storage can be saved via data deduplication. The amount of duplicated data in an environment can vary by the characteristics and access patterns of the data. Nonetheless, you can have a rough idea of your environment’s potential to create duplication. For example, files created by office employees often contain redundant data and are frequently distributed or copied (especially for a big corporation that sends emails internally to all the employees). Such environments can benefit the most from deduplication.
Deduplication ratio is the proportion of logical data to physical space needed to store the deduplicated data. For example, a 10:9 deduplication ratio is quite a fair assumption based on experiments on Zimbra server data. It means that 10 units of logical data, let’s say 10TB is stored in 9 units of physical disk space, which is 9TB, eliminating the need for an additional 1TB, saving 10% of the cost. If we consider the total cost of ownership of a TB of data on average is $3,000 a year, a 10:9 deduplication ratio of 10TB of data saves you $3000 per year.
A real-time compression is implemented in Zextras storage management through the gzip algorithm. Storing a corporation’s data and its backups that rapidly grow to an incredible size costs you new expensive storage devices unless you take advantage of data compression.
Data compression has a big impact on storage cost. We can summerize benefits of compression in:
- Reducing storage devices expenses,
- Reducing storage floor costs,
- Reducing storage power consumption,
- Reducing labor costs,
- Making storage usage more efficient,
- delaying the need for storage expansion,
- Providing more time to better estimate expansion needs.
Theoretically, the compression ratio of this method can be as high as 10:1 saving space around 90 percent, however, the compression ratio of any compression algorithm is a function of the length and structure of the data being compressed, meaning that even if the lengths of two files are the same, the compressed size may vary based on their different sequence structures. This makes it really difficult to give you an example of how much these techniques can compress your data to save up space. Nonetheless, practical experiments have shown that a 10:6 compression ratio is quite achievable based on the type of data on a Zimbra server. It means that 10 units of logical data, let’s say 10TB is stored in 6 units of physical disk space, which is 6TB, eliminating the need for an additional 4TB, saving 40% of the cost. If we consider the total cost of ownership of a TB of data on average is $3,000 a year, a 10:6 compression ratio of 10TB of data saves you $1,200 per year.
Hierarchical Storage Management
Hierarchical Storage Management or HSM is a data storage technology that allows us to move data between storages based on a defined policy. This means that data is organized based on your needs, and each storage, depending on its properties and specifications, gets the share of your data that it can handle best. For, example suppose you stored all your data on high-speed storage and slower storage (like solid-state drives which are more expensive but faster than a cheaper hard disk drive), in a way that all the frequently used data are stored in the faster storage, the advantage is that the total amount of data is not on faster but more expensive storage, which translates to less cost, and since the less frequently used data are on the slower storage, the users generally won’t experience any slowdown. If a user reuses a file from the slower storage, it will automatically move to the faster storage.
Having a great impact on the user experience is not HSM’s only benefit, in fact, it can reduce the storage costs for the corporation since not only you will end up saving on what you would have to spend on new and fast volumes but it also helps you reduce the structural costs by leaving the current mail data on smaller space. Studies show that around 60% of data on the storage is rarely used or even inactive. It’s extremely difficult to estimate the benefits of HSM on your environment. Besides all the optimization benefits, it frees up a big portion of the storage giving you the difference between two storage expenses even without considering the fact that after a while the price of the storage you needed to buy decreases. Also, it gives you more time to estimate how much more storage you will need
Let’s calculate the savings delivered by HSM for 10TB of data, with these assumptions:
- Recent emails make 20% of the total amount of data (based on the policy you define indicating the time period of the emails that should be transferred to a low-level device),
- The total cost of ownership of a TB of data on average is $3,000 a year,
- The slower storage costs 25% less than the current one ($3,000 × 75% = $2,250 a year),
Based on the assumptions above, you move 80% of the total data to a low-level device. Therefore, you migrate 8TB of data from the expensive device ($3,000) into the affordable one ($2,250). Therefore, you only pay $750 for each TB of data you migrated. In this case, HSM saves you $6,000 per year.
Zextras Suite gives you the option of using secure and durable cloud storage for hosting primary and secondary volumes created with Zextras storage management on S3 buckets. Cloud storage refers to data storage offered by third parties, instead of storing data to the local storage devices. Third parties, also known as hosting parties, can offer a better-optimized power consumption due to the amount of data they handle and the different techniques they use. Object storage is a very common data management technique used in these hosting parties that considers storage data as distinct units that are called objects. These objects are kept in a single storehouse and are not ingrained in files inside other folders. Instead, object storage combines the pieces of data that make up a file, adds all its relevant metadata to that file, and attaches a custom identifier.
A major advantage of cloud storage is taking the burden of storage power management off the local system administrators, as it is taken care of by the cloud service provider. The cloud service provider has a wider variety of options and techniques for power consumption optimization, because of the large load of data and workloads it has at hand. For example, the service provider can use more optimized storage devices and use more power-aware storage techniques, like HSM, or storage virtualization which brings different workloads from various users together into a single storage device, thus letting for a smaller device idle time and improved storage efficiency. Despite some reliability issues still being a cause for concern, the growth of cloud storage provides massive opportunities for greener storage. We can opt for better reliability by using the most reputable cloud storage providers.
Moreover, moving away from the on-premise storage that is nearly always unused although you have already paid for it, can make a huge difference in cost management. You can obtain as little or as much capacity as you need and only pay for the amount you used.
Let’s calculate the savings delivered by using cloud storage for 10TB of data. Let’s say the total cost of ownership of a TB of data on average is $3,000 a year for on-premise storage devices. On the other hand, if we say cloud storage costs around 30% less than on-premise storage devices ($3,000 × 70% = $2,100 a year) which is a fair assumption based on several studies. Therefore, by migrating your data from the expensive device ($3,000) into the affordable one ($2,100) you only pay $900 for each TB of data. In this case, you save $9,000 per year.
Combination of Features
In this article, we saw the mechanism of cost-saving for each feature. However, it’s the combination of these features that benefits you the most. The savings can even exceed the cost of Zextras Suite in some cases. In the third part of this article, we see how you can calculate your own savings delivered by the Zextras Powerstore including a couple of real-world scenarios.