Data storage provisioning best practices

Best practices for data storage provisioning start with the need for the many stakeholders to communicate and coordinate so the process will be effective. The team approach will also help with the establishment of policies and rules, as well as tool selection.

Here's a list of best practices to follow when provisioning data storage:

1. Standardize, where possible, especially in environments with several classes of storage.

2. Establish

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service-level agreements (SLAs) in conjunction with IT leaders responsible for purchasing decisions. SLAs can help to ensure that the storage team provisions the right storage for each application.

3. Don't forget data storage security. Even simple tasks such as changing the default passwords on the array's element managers and the storage resource management (SRM) tools will improve security in the storage environment. Making sure the maintenance interfaces for the storage arrays and for the SRM packages are on a separate, isolated management network, not the public network, will also help, said Brian Garrett, technical director of the Enterprise Strategy Group Lab.

4. Use the latest versions of storage provisioning tools. Often the most up-to-date tools are available for free with maintenance contracts, and the newer versions tend to have better interfaces, wizards and greater automation capabilities.

5. Provision a large chunk of storage for the virtualized server environment. VMware Inc. provides tools to allow the virtual server team to carve up the pool of storage into smaller units of storage for the individual virtual machines (VMs), alleviating the burden on storage administrators to provision each new VM.

"The only case where I would probably choose not to provision in that way is if I have some type of application or tool that needs to directly communicate to the array," said Jon Bock, a group product marketing manager at VMware.

6. Consider thin provisioning, where appropriate, to help improve storage utilization rates. Using thin provisioning technology, administrators can present a large chunk of storage to a server, but on the array, the storage is allocated only when it is actually used.

This was first published in May 2009

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