Ron Marks is the IT Operations Manager at the IT department and he is responsible for ensuring that all operations go smoothly. When Ron started his job in the end of the 90’s, the municipality had around 1,000 users on the administrative unit – today that amount has almost tripled.
With a yearly data growth of 50% or more, it’s obvious to Ron Marks that you need a solution that controls the inflow of the user generated data, to be able to ensure an effective storage environment and keeping storage costs down.
“A private person can buy 1TB of hardware for 1,000 SEK at a regular consumer electronics store, whereas hardware solutions suited for enterprises can cost up to 35 times more per TB”, says Ron.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that the hardware space is used in the best way possible and not uncontrollably filled with unnecessary data. In addition, all data needs to be backed up – a file that is not work related will occupy unnecessary space on costly servers, and will continue to be backuped.
Allocation of storage space
Already in the end of the 90’s Ron chose a quota solution from Northern to be able to locate storage space. Northern’s Quota Server is still running in the municipality of
Kristianstad, now as a part of Northern Storage Suite, and is used to control the use of storage by dividing storage space among the users. Every new user is automatically given 100 MB and has to ask for more space when they’ve reached their quota. The users are also notified and told to clean up their files when they’ve reached 80 and 90% of their maximal capacity.
Through the view in Quota Server, the municipality’s helpdesk is able to easily get an overview of all users, divided by departments. That way they are able to see how much space the users make use of. If a user reaches maximal capacity, the helpdesk can see this in real time and either contact the user to ask him to clean up his files or give the user extra storage space.
Give the users tools to administer their files by themselves
Even if quotas help controlling the data growth, it doesn’t prevent that duplicates, old files or even non-work related data is being stored. This is what the municipality of Kristianstad noticed when they were looking into their environment and chose to upgrade their SAN. What was actually stored on the users home directory and the common shares? Do all this data need to be migrated to the new disks?
“In present situation we don’t have mandate to control the data of individual users, unless we suspect malpractice. However, if we can encourage the users to take responsibility for their own data, then we’re not violating their rights but can ensure that the hardware resources are used in an optimal way”, says Ron Marks.
That’s why Ron chose to roll out Northern Storage Portal – a web portal where the users quickly can get an overview of all the data they own (duplicates, media files, largest and oldest files) and tools to be able to make a quick clean up.
By making Storage Portal available for the users, and by informing the departments that IT is planning to start billing internally for actual storage usage, the home shares were cleaned up. In one month, the music files decreased by 9% and the common shares by 14%. One of the departments managed to decrease their storage usage by 21% in 24 hours after having been explained how much the storage actually costs. With help from Northern Storage Portal to involve the users, the municipality avoided migrating a large amount of unnecessary data to their new SAN.
Northern Storage Portal makes the users more aware of the fact that storage do cost and that they should not automatically save everything on the municipality’s servers.
Ron can easily follow the evolution of the data growth using the reporting tool in Northern Storage Reporter. He can see what types of files are growing the most, if a catalogue is filled up quickly and who’s using more storage.
By implementing Northern Storage Suite and roll out Quota Server, Storage Reporter and Storage Portal, the municipality of Kristianstad is keeping the storage under control – the data growth is kept within a reasonable pace, the users are made aware of their files and the IT department can assure that the operations will remain undisturbed.
Ron Marks’ experience with Northern and Northern Storage Suite makes him happily recommend the solution as part of an IT strategy. The data growth can’t be avoided; on the contrary it’s a sign of a healthy organization. However, it needs to be controlled not to get carried away and create disturbance or unnecessary high costs. Ron Marks rating is short and sweet: “Northern Storage Suite gives us a control over the user generated data that is necessary for us to be able to ensure both a secure operation and a sustainable development.”