This is a hard number to get a handle on, since some companies have the budgets to support a large storage admin group and others have the budget but are forcing the guys on staff to "do more with less." This has never happened to anyone out there? Right? Yeah, sure.
All companies these days are cutting back on expenses. The first to go are the consultants and the budget to hire new people. As the storage requirements for the companies explode, they are asking the existing employees to work harder.The good news here is that after implementing a SAN, the ability to manage storage becomes much easier. I personally know some storage admins that are managing over 80TB of storage all by themselves. They use a core group of server admins that they have trained to back them up in case they go on vacation. This is for combined mainframe and open systems storage across at least two datacenters (one guy is doing three datacenters all by himself!)
I have other customers with a staff of 20 or so folks dedicated to storage. So the answer is, it depends. I would take numbers indicated as "industry standard" with a certain amount of skepticism. The answer depends on the size of the companies being surveyed. In my experience, mainframe storage is more static with great "change control" parameters that the operations staff adhere to. Therefore, fewer people can manage more. On the open side, if you have Web access into the storage frames to add storage to servers, then one guy can manage many boxes even from home if need be.
So here is my rule of thumb:
If you have your SERVER guys install the HBAs into the servers and the NETWORK or electricians (I'm not sure if you're a union shop) run the cables to the switches then, one person can manage the total capacity of your storage arrays. This, of course, depends on the ability to manage the boxes through a browser interface. The storage arrays themselves also need the flexibility to create and delete LUNs on the fly.
So if your arrays scale to say 40TB, then it's 40TB per person. Add another half a person for sick time and vacation coverage. Note that this does NOT cover backup/restore. There should be another person responsible for backup of the site.
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This was first published in August 2002