The best way to define a storage management policy is to look at the events that occur in the day-to-day operations of a storage environment from the disk, tape, switch, host, and application perspectives. Once you understand the day-to-day operations, you can then look at the events and alarms that are created and how the information technology team processes each event from problem determination to resolution. I look at these events and alarms as the traces of a problem and the actions that are taken to resolve them as a policy in its infancy. I have a saying that has served me well: "From practice, comes process. From process comes policy."
This is similar to the way an army unit works. Each process is documented in a book called the Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP. For example, if an army unit wants to forge a river, there is a process for gathering the resources, scheduling the work, and crossing the river -- the SOP for crossing a river. This is no different than creating a storage management policy. The army has forded thousands of rivers and it has documented the best way to do it. Each time it does it, it improves the practice until the practice becomes a process. Then the process is tuned to work for each specific new environment. The process for crossing the river has been so well tested and proven that it has become a policy. In other words, once these procedures become the standard processes -- having been proved over time and multiple events -- then they become policies. Each policy needs to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it is still applicable to the environment.
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This was first published in October 2003