It's that time of year again when we take down the tree and the lights and start thinking about the New Year. Thoughts turn to what we want for 2014 and how we can make it better than the year before. Typically the focus is on the personal—get in better shape, finish the project car, find the perfect girl…oops, sorry, you don't need my list of 2014 resolutions. While resolutions are great, goals might be better as they give us targets to aim for and definitive desired outcomes. Since I'm a storage technology kind of guy, let's take a look at some data center focused resolutions and goals for 2014.
- Substance over style. I am not a trendy person, to which anyone who looks in my closet can attest. That said, it is easy to get caught up in the latest trends or conventional wisdom when it comes to technology. You would think that back office technology would be immune from issues other than solving problems, but that isn't always. Most technology does some things well, and some things poorly. There is no 'one thing' that is the perfect solution for all use cases. As you make your next move, pick gear, software and partners that will first and foremost help solve the problem, don't worry about what someone else will think of your choice. On more occasions than you think, an "old" technology, such as tape or virtualization, can create a competitive advantage.
- Pay attention to all costs. It is amazing just how many companies pay attention only to initial acquisition costs for technology. Vendors like to talk about total cost of ownership (TCO) and how their widget will save money, but more often than not the purchase comes down to the initial PO. I'm looking at insulation for my garage, as it gets pretty cold sometimes in Colorado, and there is a tremendous difference in cost between different types of insulation. I'm going to end up spending more on better insulation because it will save me money in the long run. Of course, I expect to live at my place for a long time. If I had a three-year outlook, my decision might be different. We need to think the same way when selecting data center solutions. If you have 100 physical servers and can virtualize them down to 10, there is a good chance you will save a ton of money. If you have four servers and can virtualize them to one, the added complexity and management cost of the virtual system might outpace the savings in hardware. Same with storage, if you have four TB of data to protect, a USB hard drive might be the best bet. If you have 40 PB, automated tape libraries with modern high capacity tapes will likely be the overall cost leader.
- Make things simple. Technology was supposed to make our lives easier. In truth, we are over complicating things with technology most of the time. The more complex things get the harder they are to implement and troubleshoot. They might do amazing things, but when they break, they are often a lot harder to get running again. Technology today seems to love complex solutions to problems. Many problems are hard to solve, and need complex solutions, but we need to focus on finding simple solutions to all our problems. Amazingly they can often save time and money. If they solve the problem but aren't as fancy, who cares?
We can each make 2014 a great year and make some resolutions that will help our lives both at work and home better. Thinking back to my resolutions, I entered myself in a 5K and my car in a show on the same weekend in April. Nothing like some targets to help keep the goals real. I'm still looking for a plan for finding the girl…