NetApp IT Eats Its Own Dog Food

Manages capacity with OnCommand Insight

If NetApp technology is that good, the company must use it enthusiastically, right? Stetson Webster, a senior engineer in NetApp’s IT group, answers that question with an emphatic “Yes” in an article on NetApp’s blog.

The company’s rapid growth had forced the IT team into firefighting mode, Webster relates, and it had become clear that a proactive approach to managing IT capacity and resources was needed.

Enter OnCommand Insight (OCI) storage management software.

“We knew OCI could help us maximize our current storage utilization and simplify the process of determining future needs,” Webster writes. “The question was: Could OCI really deliver on its promise to help us manage our storage as an end-to-end service and integrate it into our entire IT service-delivery chain?”

OCI is designed to answer four simple questions: What storage is available? How is it being used? How much does it cost? And, what is needed for the future?

Webster says his team became OCI’s biggest fan as soon as it installed it right out of the box — without customization — and started using it.

“We could see the relationships between our assets and then correct operational gaps. We could connect the data across our network — regardless of platform or location — and optimize it to specific performance criteria,” he writes.

The team defined three key performance indicators (KPIs) to check weekly in order to ensure optimal performance: node utilization (CPU usage); aggregate utilization (to see how hard the disks were working); and aggregate space (how much storage space was being used).

Webster cites five key benefits of OCI:

• End-to-end visibility of the IT service-delivery chain; i.e., the ability to trace storage applications to a business service;
• workload rebalancing, through a clear view of current and anticipated storage needs;
• executive dashboards, which aggregate key data to inform strategic decision-making;
• proactive approach, enabling better prioritization by measuring resources against objectives; and
• self-service portal, which frees storage IT team from reporting distractions.

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