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Step 2: Playing a part
The next step is defining the demarcation of the storage management group, and the roles each member will play. This will give you a better idea of how many people you'll need than any "terabytes per admin" metric. Here are some basic roles and responsibilities:
- Group leader. Someone has to be responsible for the success of the organization. The lead has to be able to work with other groups, both within and outside IT, to determine how to map your technical capabilities to a business strategy.
- Storage engineer. In small environments, a single storage engineer can design, implement and debug all of the disk storage, but larger groups may opt to distribute these responsibilities.
- Backup engineer. This position is responsible for making sure your backup system runs according to plan and that new storage is protected appropriately.
- Business analyst. The business analyst is charged with harmonizing your technical capabilities with the demands of the greater organization.
- Operators. Someone has to watch the big board and call for help when the indicators go red. The IT operations group that's already in place is best suited for these tasks and handling other duties, such as the daily labeling and shipping of tape
These are the basic roles, and understudies will also be needed in case the leads are unavailable. And some environments are just too large or complex to rely on one or two people. So how many of each type do you need? I like to have at least one engineer per 10 systems or two locations. Complexity and time zones can more than double that ratio.
I caution against combining these roles, even in small organizations. For example, backup is more likely to be overlooked if it's not someone's primary job responsibility. So assume that at minimum, you'll need four or more people in your storage management group.
This was first published in October 2004