SD2002: Dedicate staffers to storage, or else

A top industry expert said this week at the Storage Decisions conference in Chicago that dedicating one of your IT pros to storage management, and only storage management, will soon be a necessity and not a luxury.

CHICAGO--Most IT professionals maintain and manage storage as a sidebar to their normal operations, but if you don't have a group of people working on storage full time you could be putting your entire operation in jeopardy, a leading industry expert said this week.

One of the industry's top storage experts, Nick Allen, vice president and research director of Gartner Inc., told a group of users here at the Storage Decisions 2002 conference that the only way to survive data growth is to dedicate staff to storage management.

"If you don't have a dedicated storage group in your organization, you'd better think again," Allen said.

Allen predicted that this year will be the first down year in storage growth, but that growth will return with a vengeance in 2003, leading to 180 exabytes of information by 2006.

"Data availability concerns will drive new organizational structures supporting software," he said.

Conference attendees seemed to agree with Allen's views.

Jeff Swanson is the IT Director for Xlinx, a Longmont, Colo., company that makes programmable logic devices. Even though he runs a mix of storage from IBM Corp., Network Appliance, Hitachi Data Systems and Sun Microsystems, he still doesn't have a dedicated storage team.

"We have a few [IT system administrators] that pay attention to storage," Swanson said. "Over the next year or two, once SRM tools evolve, we'll have a few IT system administrators dedicated to storage."

Tom Trist, IT supervisor for Harris Corp., San Jose, Calif., is headed down the same path.

"We've become increasingly aware that we don't have enough knowledge when it comes to storage," said Trist.

He added that his current effort to migrate from two small SANs -- one based on Windows NT and one on UNIX -- will eventually lead him to assign personnel specifically to storage management.

Overall, Allen recommended budgeting for training and storage management automation software to leverage staff resources, but he cautioned that the real challenge is not software; the challenge is knowing yourself and your policies.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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