Get ready for new storage management tools


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If you believe the hype, this is the year storage management tools will burst onto the scene. According to Gartner Dataquest, storage management software revenue grew from $5.3 billion in 2000 to $8.5 billion in 2002 and will continue its ascent to $16.7 billion in 2005.

Companies would certainly welcome true enterprise storage management platforms with open arms. Today's landscape of proprietary element management tools provide little help to cope with storage growth and data protection. If the storage industry can deliver open, scaleable software platforms that manage heterogeneous storage, enable higher utilization rates and automate processes, CIOs will have cause for celebration.

Before you break out the champagne, it's important to look at the lessons learned in the past. Remember the large enterprise management frameworks such as Computer Associates Unicenter, Hewlett-Packard OpenView, and Tivoli TME ? Similar to today's storage management platforms, these software solutions were supposed to unify management tasks into a common command and control center. The vision was compelling: a single management platform to monitor and manage distributed systems and networks across the enterprise. Large companies couldn't resist. They purchased software and engaged in multiyear implementations to bridge their enterprise management environment. It was expensive and difficult, but the payoff would be worth the effort.

You can probably anticipate how this story

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ended. According to the Meta Group, approximately 70% of the big framework implementations ended in failure. Many companies abandoned these projects and went back to more subdued and contained management environments, although most projects failed because of IT shortcomings, not product weaknesses. IT never took the time to make the organizational and process changes to ensure success.

Building a storage management project plan

This brings us back to storage management. To give your company the best chance of success, you need a comprehensive storage management software project plan before implementing big storage management suites. How? A consultant friend of mine suggests adopting a four-phased model that helps prepare you through organizational and operational process changes (see "Building a storage management project plan," this page). This plan encompasses the complete range of project lifecycle stages: assess, design, test, implement and operate.

Phase 1
An effective storage management project goes beyond managing boxes and storage utilization. Start with a thorough understanding of business and service requirements as they relate to storage. What kind of data protection do different business applications need? What about remote mirroring for disaster protection? How can storage help deliver better system performance? How can the storage architecture provide better access to data? When these requirements are defined, IT will have a better idea what the storage management software must deliver.

Once the business is covered, the project shifts to IT operations. This involves a comprehensive look at policies and processes. The key objective is to find and fix operational weaknesses prior to any new management software implementation.

As business and IT operations requirements become clear, it's time to put together RFIs and RFPs. Let some of your best engineering and operations people research available options. If installed accounts are sited within trade press articles, call the company listed for additional information on products and vendors. Check user groups as well.

This was first published in May 2003

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