8 Ways to Maximise Data Centre Efficiency with Server Storage

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Storing and managing exponentially growing data volumes uses a lot of energy. If this describes your data centre, it’s time to review how you’re using server storage. Small tweaks can deliver significant efficiency gains without hampering operations or capacity. 

Data centres can represent significant operational costs if they are not managed efficiently. With power, cooling, and maintenance expenses, even slight improvements can mean big savings annually. As you evaluate your data centre strategy this year, focus on server storage optimisations that boost efficiency without compromising performance or capacity.

Let’s explore eight ways to maximise efficiency through smarter storage.

1. Consolidate Storage

Your first step is to audit all data centre service storage usage. Many servers underutilize storage capacity, wasting energy by powering and cooling empty drives. Consolidating data onto fewer, higher-capacity servers allows for the decommissioning of unused servers. This “rightsizing” approach saves on power, cooling, and floor space. It also simplifies management, as fewer devices require maintenance and support. Start by identifying lightly-used servers as candidates for data consolidation.

2. Optimise Data Placement

Careful data placement is crucial for improving storage efficiency. 

  • Once you’ve consolidated data onto fewer servers through storage tiering and rightsizing, take time to analyse file locations across physical and logical drives. 
  • Using data centre service analytics and heat mapping, you can identify opportunities to better distribute data.
  • Some things to pay attention to are: are any drives approaching capacity while others have large empty balances? 
  • Group related files together to avoid fragmentation that hurts performance. For example, keep all project folder contents or database tables on the same drive subsystem. 
  • Also consider file attributes like access patterns, size and format. Hot data accessed daily may do best on high-IOPS SSDs, while cold backups suit low-cost HDDs.
  • Take a methodical approach to data migration. Move subsets of files between drives in small batches to avoid overloading systems. 
  • Schedule migrations during off-peak hours so I/O doesn’t compete with production workloads. Test performance before and after each stage to validate changes that don’t cause new bottlenecks. 
  • Over time, continually reviewing drive heat maps will reveal new candidates for optimisation as usage habits evolve. 
  • Keep data centre services optimised as storage expands to maintain efficiency as the infrastructure grows.

3. Consider Tiered Storage

If using a single storage tier for all data, consider tiering instead. Frequently accessed “hot” data goes on high-performance SSDs; infrequently accessed “cold” data goes on high-capacity HDDs. This approach maximises performance for operations while minimising the total storage footprint and associated power and cooling. Archiving very cold data to tape further cuts costs while keeping it online if needed. Don’t overlook object storage for large unstructured data too.

4. Replace Old Drives

Drive replacements deserve a closer look, given their outsized impact on power consumption and efficiency gains. Newer drive technologies have come tremendously far, particularly for HDDs, which still comprise the bulk of enterprise storage. 

  • Factor in the typical 3-5% annual efficiency improvements in drive motors, heads and electronics as well. Over half a decade, that compounds to dramatic deltas versus older units. 
  • Additionally, consider your data centre services power costs projected over a drive’s 3-5-year lifecycle. The savings often justify refreshes ahead of failures to continually optimise efficiency as technologies progress.
  • To implement, first assess all deployed drives against their average usable lifespan. 
  • Pull SMART data and temperature/power sensors. 
  • Flag the oldest units to replace in staged refreshes. 
  • Coordinate replacements with maintenance windows to minimise disruptions. 
  • Test thoroughly before decommissioning the retired drives to catch any legacy-induced issues upfront.

5. Monitor Storage Usage

Proactive monitoring gives insights into your storage usage habits and patterns over time. It identifies efficiency opportunities that analytics alone may miss. Look for trends like infrequently accessed data, underutilised capacity, and unusual activity spikes and dips. Note seasonal changes too. Armed with this “ground truth,” you can rightsize data centre service storage on an ongoing basis to precise needs rather than relying on estimates and extra headroom.

6. Tweak Drive Settings

Modern drives offer configurability to optimise for either performance or power efficiency. Lowering rotation speeds on HDDs in rarely accessed “cold” tiers saves energy with minimal impact. Adjusting workload profiles and cache settings influences how aggressively drives spin down during periods of low use. Many drives also enable setting drive temperatures and workload limits that never exceed server needs. Take advantage of these tweaks without jeopardising reliability or performance standards.

7. Leverage Data Reduction

Start with pilot testing on representative data centre service sets from different applications, like databases, VDI images and backup repositories. This identifies the best reduction methods and sweet spot efficiency gains without disrupting production. 

  • Leverage appliances that offload processing overhead from application servers during testing. Pay attention to factors like dataset fragmentation levels, file sizes and whether the data is already compressed. Results will vary significantly.
  • When rolling out, consider targeting centralised secondary storage first since data is less dynamic. Look for 20–30% or greater reductions from deduplicating virtual disc files or backup archives, for example. 
  • Primary filesystems see fewer opportunities, typically. 
  • Enable compression on any file shares containing office documents, emails or other text-heavy formats too.
  • For maximum ROI, accelerate larger deployments with purpose-built efficiency appliances. They isolate reduction processing to avoid performance hits and scale aggressively with your storage usage. 
  • Storage-aware backup applications and hyperconverged systems also integrate reduction seamlessly.
  • Monitor savings closely using capacity reporting. Payback timescales vary, but reductions compound over time as file changes accumulate in the “deleted” state. 
  • With proactive management, data reduction becomes a self-funding investment in optimising storage efficiency.

8. Right-Size Infrastructure

Continually evaluate server, storage and networking utilisation against current needs. Remember, unused capacity costs more to maintain than it’s worth. As workloads shift over time, unused CPU cores, RAM, NIC channels or storage may emerge. Remove unneeded devices, consolidate data centre services, and even downsize your physical footprint for ongoing efficiency. But avoid over-aggressive rightsizing that could undermine availability or future flexibility.

Conclusion

By adopting these server storage optimisation tactics, any data centre operator can significantly improve efficiency and reduce operational costs. Benefits compound over time, justifying modest upfront investments in technologies like tiering, data reduction or drive replacements. Monitoring usage patterns and adjusting configurations seasonally maintains the savings. With careful capacity planning and ongoing optimisation, maximising efficiency need not compromise performance or functionality.

 

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