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Storage Economics helps partners bridge gap between finance and IT

Quick tools and other methodologies from Hitachi Data Systems aim to help partners back up their technology expertise with grounded financial arguments

Bridging the gap between technology and finance is the goal of Storage Economics, a methodology to assess a customer’s storage environment and make the right architecture recommendations based on total cost of ownership developed by storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems (NYSE: HIT).

A methodology consisting of professional services as well as quick calculators and Microsoft Excel-based tools, Storage Economics lays at the intersection between technology and finance said Chris Willis, director of cloud and converged solutions for HDS Americas.

“The goal is to be able to financially identify the right solution,” said Willis. “It’s used as a pre-sales tool to identify the technology we could be recommending to a given organization, and for customers trying to make decisions based on vast amounts of storage, help them make the right decision based on finances.”

The base methodologies have been updated over time with the advent of virtualization, cloud computing and converged solutions, and Willis said it’s flexible enough to allow HDS and its partners to identify 34 different categories of cost, as some categories may be more applicable to some customers than other. For example, for a power producer such as Hydro Quebec, reducing data centre power consumption may not be the priority it is for other companies.

Storage Economics can be particularly useful in helping partners get a good feel for what the customer’s current environment looks like; something customers often don’t know themselves.

“They know what technology they have, but they don’t have a baseline (around cost and expenses),” said Willis.

Take the case of a customer looking to move into cloud computing, a decision many companies are facing today given the hype around the model. If they don’t know what their current costs are, they can’t know if moving to the cloud is the right decision, and if they’d be eliminating or just transferring costs. They need to understand the categories of cost, including taxes, over a three to five-year period, and Storage Economics helps with this, said Willis.

While some of the Storage Economics intellectual property is reserved for HDS’ professional services engagements, Willis said most of the quick tools and calculators are available to HDS partners that have reached high levels of certification and training in the vendor’s partner program. He added where they can really be useful is helping the CIO make the case to their boss, who is usually the CFO.

“Often in the translation between technology and finance, there’s a gap. These tools allow partners to easily bridge that gap, bringing-up both the fiscal and technological requirements for a given business case,” said Willis. “It drives a more qualitative conversation. Knowing the financial levers is a foundational element partners have to be involved in. The days of just selling a box and setting it in an environment are shorter and shorter. Customers are asking partners for a lot more value.”