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6 minute readEMC Storage Capacity Planning – 7 Considerations

Without proper storage capacity management, it is impossible to keep pace with the massive data growth of today’s EMC storage environments. Here are 7 things to consider when formulating a capacity planning strategy or deciding their current and future needs when purchasing a storage system.

1. The Tools of The Trade

If you’re trying to improve your business’ storage capacity planning process, there are several tools that are likely at your disposal already. Armed with spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc, you can leverage PerfMon, a Windows performance monitoring tool, to track the total disk space as well as the amount of disk being used.

For larger enterprises, this is far from a complete solution, and if you need more granularity, there are a host of SRM and capacity planning tools and calculators available.

The key here is determine how complex your data needs, and ensure you have the proper tools to analyze your environment’s growth, whether a spreadsheet or expensive performance monitoring tool.

2. Determining Your Present Storage Requirements

When sizing your requirements for a EMC storage system purchase or planning the amount of storage you will need in the future, plan for the total amount of storage you will need, not just what your system reports as available (i.e. calculate RAW storage needs rather than USABLE storage). For example, if you are running RAID 10, you will need twice as much disk as data to account for RAID 10 mirroring. For RAID 5, simply divide the amount of usable storage by roughly 0.75 (or multiply by 1.33) if using a three disk RAID array.

More, for every GB of disk storage added, ensure you’ve properly sized the required disk and storage necessary to provide backups and disaster recovery storage capacity. With that information, you can begin making educated decisions about the type and number of disks.

3. Planning For the Future

Next, it’s important to evaluate the data storage growth rate on your EMC storage array. Depending on the complexity of your EMC storage environment or end-user behavior, this can be done on a monthly basis or an annualized rate.

There are a few ways to calculate these numbers—consulting your log files or using software onboard your EMC storage array, you can use spreadsheets and planning tools to extrapolate future storage needs. Capacity planning software or other specialized management, while somewhat pricey, will allow you to determine growth rates much more quickly.

Also, if utilizing EMC’s Snapview to create local point-in-time copies and clones for faster recovery make sure you include enough space for snaps or other types of disk based backups.

4. Account For Storage Tiers

Many enterprises keep storage on different performance tiers, so you need to project requirements and growth for each storage class separately. It’s common to find that lower storage tiers may experience faster growth rates dues to archiving practices or regulations requiring longer retention periods. It may be possible to save money by ensuring that more expensive, faster performance disk (such as Fibre Channel or SAS) grow only at the necessary rate while rapidly expanding slower disk (such as SATA disk drives).

5. Account For Major Infrastructure Changes

Thus far, the calculations discussed only account for natural growth in existing EMC storage systems and applications. Check with management or other infrastructure team leads to find out about any planned acquisitions or projects that might cause sudden increases in storage demand. New applications and implementation can cause sudden spikes in storage requirements, as well as adding a additional employees or acquisitions of new business units.

6. Determine Ways To Save On EMC Storage

Looking for ways to reduce the cost of storage growth is a great way to expand the capabilities of your storage environment by either adding more storage for the same price or redirecting savings to other important projects. There are a few ways you can reduce the cost of your EMC storage array.

  • Evaluate Proper Performance Needs – There may be places in your EMC storage environment where applications are sitting on disk not properly suited for your data. Switching from RAID 10 to RAID 5 may help reduce the growth of storage, as well as moving low-performance applications and archive data to slower, larger SATA disks.
  • Repurpose Legacy Equipment – Old systems that are EOL or not currently supported by EMC can still be repurposed for data archiving , testing, and development environments. Utilizing third-party maintenance to extend the life of your system may save you a significant portion of your budget without sacrificing reliability and availability.
  • Purchase Used or De-Installed Disk Upgrades and Systems—Taking advantage of used disk from a firm like Reliant Technology can significantly reduce the cost of adding storage to accommodate growth in your EMC storage array. A used EMC storage array from Reliant can cost anywhere between 30-60% less than a similar system from EMC, allowing you to buy larger systems or more capacity that otherwise might have been out of reach.
  • Consider Data Deletion—Meet with end-user teams in order to make sure that you aren’t keeping unnecessary data on expensive storage systems. Working with end-users will allow you to set data retention policies appropriate for the data in question.

7. Get Ahead of the Growth Curve

Buying just enough storage to get by can leave you desperately exposed when an unexpected event arises in the datacenter. Consider buying excess storage so that last minute storage additions don’t turn into fire-fighting exercises.

Need help planning or additional information? Talk to a dedicated Reliant Storage Specialist today to get expert adviceand ensure you have the storage you need at a price you can afford.

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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