Create a storage service for your company


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The service concept

Working with multiple teams that may have many different systems for change control, problem management, incident management and customer communications places a huge burden on the typical enterprise storage function. But that's where ITIL excels because it provides a framework on how best to coordinate storage management work with other teams. ITIL's main mechanism to address organizational complexity is through the concept of a service, which is defined as follows by ITIL v3: "A 'service' is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks."

ITIL v3 breaks service management into five distinct phases (with corresponding publications):

  • Service strategy
  • Service design
  • Service transition
  • Service operation
  • Continual service improvement

Storage functions are required to participate fully in all phases of the service lifecycle. The ITIL v3 service operations guide (sections 5.3.2, 5.6, 6.5 and 6.6) outlines what storage and archive are responsible for. Read those sections, but don't be disappointed with the lack of detailed information. Don't expect ITIL to be delivered to your storage team; as a storage "technical function," you're expected to create services and service

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components that deliver value to your customers. To achieve that, ITIL attempts to ensure that no single IT process, function or technology is working against the greater good. ITIL provides a framework to ensure that important storage functional decisions affecting storage architectures and processes are deployed in a way that best supports the organization.

Service strategy: The goal of developing a service strategy is to create service-level requirements that are then delivered to the service design phase. The first and most basic step is to determine what services will be offered to which user communities. After a set of services is defined, the next step is to define important attributes for the service. In addition to base functionality, there are many other service attributes that are important to the service's end users and customers, including availability, cost, security policies, performance and time to deliver. The storage function plays a critical role in service strategy by verifying that storage design assumptions are in line with anticipated service offering functionality and costs.

During the service strategy phase, service architects will determine whether there will be a separate storage service or if the storage functionality be offered as a component of a more comprehensive service. There are a number of factors that need to be considered when deciding to create a separate storage service, including:

  • Organizational size. Organizations that have large storage environments may benefit from a separate storage service consisting of NAS, SAN and/or backup components that clearly defines the storage service offering and tracks service compliance via service metrics.
  • Organization breadth. Organizations with a broad application base that use repeatable or very similar storage solutions may benefit from a consistent and measurable storage service offering.
  • Organizational agility. Organizations that operate in turbulent or fast-paced markets, in which storage is an important part of their product delivery, may benefit from a separate storage service offering. For example, an email service provider may provide free storage as part of its offering. To support the consumer-facing email service, an internal storage service may be created to ensure that the storage infrastructure is properly aligned and updated with new capabilities at a speed required by the marketplace.

This was first published in August 2010

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