IT Infrastructure Insights

Storage Provisioning

Dec 06, 2016

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Implementing Charge-back and Show-back Policies with High Capacity Storage Servers

Many years ago, there was a comedy bit by Billy Connolly that reminds me of most internal IT customers that I’ve encountered throughout my career.  During his impression, the comedian mused “I want this! And that!  Plenty of this!  Most of That! And I want it NOW!  I want it Yesterday!  And I’ll want more tomorrow.  And pay attention because all this is about to change!”  It is somewhat normal and expected that our internal customers will always want more space on their company’s high capacity storage servers, especially if they are geared towards big data storage solutions like those you’d find in finance, marketing and research organizations.  Charge-backs and show-backs are policy mechanisms that allow IT organizations to instill accountability into their corporate structure.

It works like this: Alice implements a few brand new high capacity storage servers, probably in a tiered environment, and perhaps with a segment of the more expensive tiers dedicated to big data storage solutions.  She sends out a memo, and immediately the clamor for resources begins.  Bob wants a few hundred terabytes for the Hadoop cluster he’s always wanted to build, but he also wants to evaluate Spark to see if it’s better.  Meanwhile, you’ve got your usual steady storage growth in your usual business unit categories like dev, QA, and finance, and your ERP and databases are not getting any smaller.  Alice must now determine the best way to accommodate all these requirements, but at the same time keep Bob, and the other IT departments’ expectations in check.

Charge-backs and show-backs do this by showing, or even charging as the names of the two paradigms imply, the real cost of the resources requested or consumed by the individual business units within the organization.  A good analysis tool like Visual One Intelligence can make this a breeze.  Such tools allow you to analyze different aspects of your IT cost structure enabling Alice to find out exactly who is using what, and for what application.  In a company with internal accounting mechanisms like profit and cost centers, a charge-back mechanism can shift some or even all of the costs of implementing the high capacity storage servers so that the IT organization, with its limited budget, doesn’t have to absorb cost overruns.

In an organization that doesn’t use internal profit and cost centers, a show-back report effectively serves the same purpose.  The report shows Bob and the executive team the hard cost of the resources they are using, which, hopefully, will temper their requirements and expectations.

When Alice signs into Visual One Intelligence, she can use the Business Unit Reporting features to not only explain charge-backs and show-backs, she can even forecast storage and costs, and help the executive team at her company make sound decisions based on hard data.