Utility Storage

Mapping applications and data to clearly defined storage service levels enables organisations to migrate from in-house homogenous storage infrastructures to an externally managed storage utility based on storage services delivered from on a range of technology options, delivered on a per GB price.

Adding the benefits of on-demand allocation and pay-as-you-go pricing can result in significant savings in the supply of storage services to the Enterprise.

Managing storage has always been a major challenge within IT operations. Spiralling data growth coupled with poor visibility of provisioned storage often leads to low utilisation of storage devices and unnecessarily high capital expenditure. In addition, lengthy lead times for provisioning reduce the agility of IT to support new business applications.

Storage tiering capabilities and unified storage platforms from technology vendors coupled with an on-demand commercial model now make Utility Storage or ‘Storage as a Service’ a viable option. The growth of storage offerings from public cloud providers means that corporate data can be securely housed on a range of platforms that can radically reduce costs.



The utility model is typically tiered, categorising technical solutions against the needs of applications and their associated datasets as follows:

  • Business critical.  High performance, low latency, highly available, custom service levels and high cost.
  • Business support. Easy to access for standard applications and data sets.  Strikes a balance between performance and cost.
  • Business protection.  Slower to access, high capacity but reliable and cheap.

Each tier is been presented to the enterprise application team in terms of service characteristics as opposed to the traditional view of technical products and components.  Common service attributes include cost, latency, bandwidth and availability:


This converged cloud storage model implies that an enterprise can buy one distributed storage solution for all cloud components. However, at best, it will involve the deployment of 3 separate storage technologies probably over a few iterations to meet the requirements of each tier.

There are still cost savings from moving to this type of cloud storage model but it won’t be achieved by having one massive infinitely scalable storage pool. Also, the emergence of flash, SSD technology results in the emergence of an on-premise Tier 0 layer for ultra-high performance application storage requirements.

The Storage Utility is therefore a typical mix of on premise and cloud storage offerings as illustrated below:



The 4sl Journey to Cloud service can help clients design the appropriate Tiered Model for their enterprise, defining the requirements for on premise storage infrastructure and the appropriate services that could be procured from the cloud. The service offering will also formally define the service management framework that surrounds a utility storage approach and help clients validate offerings from both technology vendors and cloud providers.