By Heidi Biggar
With more and more IT dollars going toward storage (see chart), administrators are increasingly finding themselves in the difficult position of having to justify hardware and software purchases to senior- level management.
According to analysts, the best-laid arguments aren't necessarily those built on straight ROI/TCO analyses, but those that clearly show the link between the storage purchase and business objectives.
"What management wants to see is what they're getting back for the investment," says Sean Derrington, senior program director, server infrastructure strategies, at the META Group, an IT research and consulting firm based in Stamford, CT. "Disk drives don't generate revenue, but applications do."
Derrington says that the problem with using ROI/TCO calculations to justify future storage expenditures is that they are based on a lot of assumptions or "squishy" factors. ROI calculations, for example, force administrators into assigning arbitrary earnings allocations to storage components, while TCO calculations often wrongly assume IT knowledge of corporate cost-accounting methodologies, according to Derrington.
META says that even if ROI and TCO could be accurately determined, the calculations are still point-in-time measurements and therefore aren't designed to reveal underlying infrastructure trends within the IT organization.
For these and other reasons, META recommends IT organizations evaluate the year-over-year effectiveness of their storage infrastructures-that is, how they affect the corporate bottom line-by perfor ming six simple calculations and then comparing results to current benchmarks for efficiency (and/or established best practices) for storage managed per administrator, data life-cycle management, storage inventory, data availability, and data recovery (see table).
Armed with these results, META says administrators will be in a better position not only to make requests for additional storage hardware or software, but also to improve overall organizational efficiency.