Thin Provisioning – What is it and is it worth paying money for it?

Thin Provisioning – What is it?

Thin Provisioning is a technique used to optimize and efficiently utilize the available space in SAN. Stonefly’s IPSANs currently feature this technology.

Thin provisioning is mainly to eliminate over allocation of storage and increase storage utilization.

Conventionally, storage provisioning, also known as fat provisioning (FP), was done, where storage space was allocated beyond how much was needed. This resulted in low utilization rates and led to a lot of wastage of storage space. Users did not know how much storage they need, so they tend to ask for a very large # just to make sure they never run out of space. That resulted in over allocation of capacity.

Thin provisioning dynamically allocates storage to the clients from one unused storage pool. Users can ask for any capacity they want, but they only will use the capacity that they need. And as their need grows, so does their storage allocation.

In advanced thin provisioning implementations such as StoneFly’s thin provisioning, there is also a feature called “Space Reclamation”. This is used if a large thin storage get allocated to a client, and client then deletes some of that data users can reclaim that deleted space to bring that back to the free storage pool.

In summary, Thin Provisioning provides the following advantages:

  • Allows you to add storage when necessary without downtime
  • Eliminates problems of over-allocation, hence providing optimal storage space utilization
  • Reclaim your capacity after data is deleted
  • Reduced consumption of electricity, and hence reduced heat generation.

Is it worth paying money for it?

The costs involved in implementing and managing Thin provisioning are well worth it. It reduces storage costs and accelerates the returns on investment.

Studies have shown in large data centers with traditional storage, there is always about 30 to 50% unused capacity allocated to the clients. That space is paid for, but never used. Using thin provisioning you can reduce your storage need by about 30 to 50%. So using thin provisioning, you can reduce your storage costs by about 30 to 50%. Considering this saving, answer to this question is very obvious.

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