By Tom Giuliano, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC Backup Recovery Systems Division
Data protection is like insurance – throw money at the chance that something will go wrong and hope that it doesn’t. But, with cloud computing models and the growing relevance of IT-as-a-service, data protection can make money for the business as well as contribute to the value of the data center.
Because most organizations leverage multiple technologies and associated element managers to protect application data, an effective data protection management strategy is required to manage the data storage environment. Without this strategy it would be very challenging to apply a uniform chargeback to these mixed systems. The result is that you have lots of disparate information about different components, making it difficult to measure the utilization and adherence to service levels across your infrastructure. Many organizations faced with this challenge are forced to either apply a one-size-fits-all approach to chargeback or not apply chargeback at all.
Without a means to manage chargeback levels, the business value of IT cannot be measured. And, even worse, you are in effect leaving money on the table. As IT transitions to a private cloud model, it needs a way to evaluate and implement effective ways to measure and gauge data protection services across the environment. What data center managers need are tools which distinguish between service levels offered to the organization, as well as to justify and apply chargeback to individual business units for those services.
The goal is to get to a point where data protection is offered as a service, and there are three primary challenges on that journey: rapid data growth, heterogeneous systems which lead to protection silos, and virtualization.
First, data growth is overtaxing traditional data protection approaches and technologies, leading to increased uncertainty about protection status. Without the capability to measure data protection processes per user or business unit means there is no way to gauge use or forecast growth. What happens is infrastructure is either over- or under-utilized. And, without standardized metrics, data center managers cannot identify and rationalize data protection investments.
Referring back to earlier comments regarding the use of multiple technologies and tactics to protect data and to provide different service levels, organizations may use local backups or replication for operational recovery, off-site replication for disaster recovery, and archiving used for longer-term data retention. Applying a common method to charge for delivered services across these silos of data protection is difficult at best.
And lastly, the unavoidable shift from dedicated physical to shared virtual server infrastructures in many data centers creates challenges, because in a virtual world, virtual machines are quickly created, deleted, and moved around as needed. The processes and technologies for chargeback that worked well in a static, physical environment may not be the most effective in a dynamic virtual environment. The result is uncertainty in applying consistent costs toward protecting and recovering business critical data. And that’s on top of the added cost and complexity of sustaining multiple data protection systems.
Winning implementations of chargeback and show-back, the ability to measure and show use without cross-charging, enable IT to apply a uniform set of metrics across all data protection environment components. Administrators can then leverage service plans to establish rates and use those metrics to apply chargeback and show-back for the services they provided.
To effectively meter and apply chargeback, data protection management systems require three primary capabilities: scalable central management, variable rate support, and the ability to analyze and view historical data.
Regardless of whether the environment leverages a private, public or hybrid cloud model, the data protection management solution needs to scale out to support internal and external multi-tenant environments as more and more customers are added. This includes customers with complicated billing requirements, which would entail chargeback, and at the same time providing tailored views into data protection via show-back. So, to get to scalable metering, the data protection management system needs to unify chargeback policies applied to the usage data for the entire data protection environment. Automated data collection needs to feed a central analytics engine and enable the establishment of different policies for different infrastructure.
Administrators need control over configuring chargeback cost monitoring. They will also need the ability to create separate fees for cost per backup, replication, and archive activity. The cost monitoring capability should include three modes: a single usage fee per activity, cost per capacity retained, and cost per capacity restored. The system must be able to apply a real-time common cost methodology, with the ability to assign rates to different services, and use these rates for chargeback and show-back of services delivered to different types of users or business units.
Standard chargeback reports must automate data collection and analysis for administrators. Otherwise, administrators would have to manually pull data together from different systems into spreadsheets, which is a time-consuming process and prone to error. Historical chargeback views are needed to provide insight into trends and analytics that would otherwise be difficult to measure using separate systems. Historical views and trending also provide insight into data protection capacity planning.
Now, imagine the value of having a single user interface in which administrators can view all components and policies for their heterogeneous environment. Imagine providing users with a self-service portal to available data protection as classes of services. Then imagine having the ability to drive chargeback on any number of metrics and to send output directly into billing systems. You’d have a data center that can actually make money!!
Data protection management solutions such as EMC Data Protection Advisor enable administrators to establish and apply a uniform set of metrics across all data protection components (e.g. backup replication, archive). Then, they can build service plans which allow administrators to apply rates to each of the service plans. And then they can leverage these metrics to apply chargeback and show-back for delivered services. Game. Set. Match. No more money left on the table.