Five tips for selling cloud storage

Opinion Dec 04, 2012

By Nigel Edwards, senior EMEA sales director at HGST

“Business and cloud giants are redefining the datacentre by designing new types of custom servers and storage solutions to help them manage explosive petabyte (PB) growth. Critical to their datacentre infrastructure is ability to scale and efficiently manage performance, power and storage efficiency to help reduce total cost of ownership (TCO),” says Nigel Edwards, senior EMEA sales director at HGST.


There are numerous opportunities for the channel to create new revenue streams around cloud storage as IT managers continue to tackle the challenges of big data, analytics, cloud, social, HD video and mobility. Edwards lists his top five steps to consider when tackling these challenges effectively:

Step 1: Beyond Price to Value

As hyperscale datacentres are designed for thousands of servers handling exabytes of data, the need to highlight the value of these customisable data centres in terms of power usage, density and reliability becomes ever more important. Cloud datacentre decisions are now based on TCO in order to measure value. Best cost-per-TB, watt-per-TB, TB-per-system weight and TB-per-square foot are the new metrics for managing better costs, performance, scalability and storage efficiency.

Step 2: Balance the data centre with a combination of HDDs and SSDs

Selling both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) in a tiered infrastructure is most effective. Datacenters are driving resurgence in demand for HDDs with IDC research projecting 46 percent compounded annual growth in this segment (CAGR: 2011-2016). SSDs have many benefits. However, they are still three to 30 times more expensive than HDDs. As a result, the most efficient cloud data centres use HDDs to store the vast majority of data because of their cost/GB advantage. SSDs are used sparingly for only the hottest applications requiring the highest read/write performance. 

Step 3: Move to 4TB Drives

The TCO savings of moving to high-capacity 4TB drives is substantial. If you want to build a video server with a 4U server case that requires 384TB in storage, you would only need three servers using the 4TB drives vs. four servers using the 3TB drives. One less server translates into a 25 percent saving in power, and with 25 percent fewer rack components you could expect additional savings of 25 percent in cooling, rack space and weight.

Additionally new up-and-coming helium-filled platforms can support seven platters per standard 3.5-inch HDD. As a result of the helium filling, the seven platter drives will deliver massive capacity while consuming 23 percent less power per drive, delivering 45 percent better power density and running four degrees Celsius cooler.

Step 4: For lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) focus on Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)

By moving to 4TB drives and eliminating servers, battery backups and networking gear, the savings are substantial. Even a saving of one watt per drive in basic power consumption across a large deployment over a period of five years adds up. If you deployed 12 hard drives per server and 25 thousand servers, you’d end up using 13 million kwh of electricity over five years.

PUE refers to the ratio of the total amount of power used by a datacentre to the power delivered or consumed by its equipment. A typical datacentre has a ratio of 2.5, according to the Uptime Institute. So, a typical data centre uses two-and-a-half times more electricity than the amount needed to run the actual equipment. A drive’s read/write and idle power usage figures indicate the power a drive requires to operate. Using fewer, higher capacity drives will consume less power making the datacentre more efficient.

Step 5: Focus on reliability for immediate CapEx and OpEx Savings

Consider a large deployment of 400,000 drives that are increased in number by 10 percent annually to reach a total deployment of 2.4 million drives in five years. Drives rated at the industry’s leading benchmark of 2 million hours Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) will have 40 percent fewer failures during the five year life of the drive over those rated at 1.2 million hours. Over a five year period you would see 20,000 more drives fail if they were rated at a lower 1.2 million hour MTBF as opposed to an industry leading 2.0 million MTBF rating. If those failing drives were in a RAID configuration or a replicated environment there would be additional costs associated with performance degradation as well as the costs of physically identifying where the drives failed and initiating replacements. At an estimated £63 cost per drive per incident, that would equate to an additional £1.26m spend by year five.

There are multiple ways to add value when selling storage as it impacts the overall TCO of the cloud datacentre. The channel has to ensure customers understand that it is offering the highest quality drives, the right combination of HDDs and SSDs with the highest capacity possible for better storage density, to reduce basic power consumption and increase the efficiency of how that power is used.

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