May 28, 2009, 1:49 PM — The concept of thin provisioning is still relatively new. The purpose is to eliminate trapped, unused storage, which occurs when storage is allocated to an application on an absolute basis. Overprovisioning is still common, as a means of making sure enough storage space is allocated--but it results in a lot of wasted space and utilization rates between 20 and 40 percent. Thin provisioning works a little differently, allowing storage to be allocated automatically on an as-needed basis. No physical disk space is committed ahead of time, rather, there is a pool of disk space that each application draws from.
Most analyst organizations are reporting a decrease or only modest increases in IT spending due to the economic climate, and enterprises are looking for ways to economize. Research from TheInfoPro suggests that thin provisioning is one key tool that IT groups will be looking to for saving those budget dollars.
A warning though, it's not exactly a plug-and-play technology, and it does take some planning to implement. In some ways, traditional storage and the over-allocation associated with it, though wasteful, is a lot easier. Just allocate more than you think you'll need, and you're good to go. With thin provisioning, there are other things to consider, such as setting threshold alerts and handling the shared storage resources efficiently. Also, not every application lends itself to thin provisioning. A high volume database for example, may take up too much of the pool and pose a risk to other applications.