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Vendor support falls short

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Growing product complexity
It's not uncommon today for a storage architect to manage 50TB of storage. This may include hundreds to thousands of servers, dozens of different path management products, host bus adapter firmware levels and driver releases, fabric zones, storage switch firmware levels, storage frame firmware/software versions and thousands of LUNs. Add in a virtualization layer and it's easy to understand why storage teams are overwhelmed. In addition to these technical duties, storage professionals are taking on more strategic roles within the business and getting involved with enterprise document management, regulatory compliance, e-mail management and archiving.

"My biggest storage-related pain point is the complexity of the solutions," says one storage administrator who works in the U.S. government. "We have to educate people, and there are so many moving parts that it's hard to find people to support them."

To alleviate some of the problems complexity brings, storage departments at larger companies are dedicating vendor technical support teams to specific tasks such as the installation of new systems, product maintenance and firmware updates. However, the companies that have relied on vendors for these vital support services often have horror stories: how a vendor's system engineer or cabling contractor accidentally powered off a primary storage array while upgrading the storage service processor; or a storage support engineer who

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pulled out the wrong spindle on the wrong storage array during a disk drive failure replacement.

"We will not tolerate a storage support organization that is less knowledgeable of storage technologies than our staff," says Hewitt Associates' Betts.

This was first published in May 2006

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