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Who's running the storage shop?

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"Absolutely," says Angelo Privetera, when asked if his storage management group has helped save his company money. "We're able to bill it back, and reduce the cost by not adding additional staff," explains Privetera, vice president and director of information and technologies for HDR Inc., an architectural and engineering consulting firm based in Omaha, NE.

Companies like HDR that have established a formal storage management structure with specific responsibilities have reaped rewards. Centralizing storage management helps eliminate redundancies, allows for consistent maintenance and monitoring of storage and applies the talents of personnel more efficiently--all of which contribute to the company's bottom line.

Before creating a formal storage management function, a number of questions need answers:

  • How many storage specialists are needed?
  • What are the job responsibilities and required skills?
  • Should the storage personnel comprise a new, separate entity, or remain in their current positions with newly defined responsibilities?
  • How will the storage personnel interact with others such as DBAs and system and network admins?
Redefining roles and shifting responsibilities may stir up controversy. The best antidote to resistance is information--be prepared to describe the benefits of specialization for the organization

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and personnel affected by the changes. "The advantage of specialization is people can focus their total attention on a subject--and by doing that, they can help devise policies and procedures that in the long run are going to be more cost-effective," says David Hill, VP of storage research at the Aberdeen Group.

Who needs dedicated storage management?
Nearly all of the Fortune 500 companies, with their enormous data storage requirements, have formal storage groups within their IT structures. But even small companies may need to consider a storage group. "Almost universally, the key metric is the number of managed, usable gigabytes--so really the size of the company is essentially meaningless," says Mike Drapeau, president of The Drapeau Group, a storage consulting firm in Alpharetta, GA.

Company size and the amount of stored data aren't the only factors, though. The value of data to a company may be a more compelling reason to formalize storage management. Bob Zimmerman, a principal analyst at Forrester, notes that it's more likely to find formalized storage management in organizations "where the integrity of the data tends to be an overwhelming driver."

This was first published in May 2004

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