Article

SNW '04: Users reveal storage strategy tips

Shane O'Neill

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A panel of users, discussing strategies for storage management here at Storage Networking World, all agreed that merely acquiring and implementing storage doesn't mean much if a company's technology and business goals are not aligned.

Marty LeFebvre, supervisor of enterprise storage management at Nielsen Media Research, said that many companies have the technology nailed down, but that good communication with business units is still lacking.

"Business thinks technology people just want to buy expensive toys and don't understand business needs," LeFebvre said. "Whereas technology people think business doesn't understand that they need new technology and can't keep using the same stuff."

Keep communications open

The solution? Define the scope and components of a storage management strategy, and keep the lines of communication open with executives at all times. LeFebvre stressed that, from the beginning, IT needs to express to management the financial motivations for purchasing a certain technology.

It's also wise to keep your strategy current. "Technologies and businesses change, so you need to document what revisions have been made along the way," LeFebvre added. Predefining what your goals are is also a plus because "you can refer back to them once they've been accomplished." IT departments should also never lose sight of opportunities for leverage with upper management such as a technology refresh, a new facility

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or a new project, LeFebvre said.

Often, non-technical, cultural issues like the reorganization of staff members can affect storage management strategy. For instance, someone who used to work in the server or network group suddenly finds themselves adapting to a new role in a storage group.

Importance of training

"Lots of organizations only think about the price of technology and not about the training of people who are insecure in new roles," said Rick Bauer, CIO of Hill School, an independent boarding school in Pottstown, Penn.

Bauer agreed with LeFebvre that products have to be mapped to business goals. "After the Internet bubble burst and now with regulatory compliance, IT expenses are no longer made in a vacuum. Costs have to be quantified," Bauer said.

He added that the amount of money invested in technology depends on whether a company is using IT as an administrative utility or for strategic value. And, this must be communicated through the CIO. "It's up to the CIO to listen to people on the business side. Building trust between the two sides is the CIO's responsibility," Bauer said.

Laurence Whitaker, supervisor of enterprise storage management at Hudson's Bay Company in Toronto, said that with information lifecycle management and compliance, IT has become more complex. For a storage management strategy to work, the right people have to be in the right roles, and Whitaker said that's not always the case. "I think having the storage team be the drivers for ILM is misplaced. This should be handled by the records management people."

The same goes for compliance, Whitaker said. "I've seen examples of compliance responsibilities being dumped on a storage group when records management, internal auditors and data security should share the load," he said.

And what about small companies that don't have such resources? "Well then, outsourcing may have to become part of your strategy," Whitaker said.

Related Topics: SAN management, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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