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Simplify your storage management process

How do I simplify my storage management processes?

The first step in simplifying a storage management process is to document the current storage management process in detail. I strongly suggest utilizing a process flow tracking tool such as Microsoft Project and/or Visio to put down the details of the processes, including the three P's:

  • Products: What hardware and software are utilized to accomplish the storage goals of the enterprise?
  • Equipment utilized: List the specific storage resources utilitied, including hosts, storage interconnects (direct attached, SAN, iSCSI, or other), primary storage devices (usually a disk device), secondary storage devices (tape, disk, CD-ROM, DVD, etc.), DR facilities and the networking infrastructure, and anything else that is critical to the process.
  • List the storage management products including online products (File Systems, Volume Managers, Replication solutions, Clustering Applications, etc.) as well as offline (Backup and backup related applications).
  • Process/Policies: What are the processes in place for managing the storage lifecycle: provisioning to archive.
  • People: Who handles all of the processes, from purchasing the storage to backing it up and offsiting the tapes.
  • Time required: Take a holistic approach and, if that doesn't work, take an educated guess as to the time required to complete a given process. Never count out that the management of storage requires human involvement. Many companies will not allow the use of automation without a human being making the decision to flip the switch (run a script, etc.).

    Once the process is documented, the team can begin to understand where process improvements can be made. An example of this occurred when a large enterprise shop looked at their archival process. They took a month to document their process and realized through the process that their rotation schedule was not optimal for their environment. They adjusted their rotation schedule and were able to reduce the time it took to back up their environment. They also saved 30% of their tape media budget as a result. In addition the company saved the time of managing the process, including parsing logs for failed jobs and restarting those jobs, which resulted in better data protection for the entire enterprise.

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