CHICAGO -- Storage tools are cool. But before storage managers can jump on the next cool-tool bandwagon, they'd better pack their bags and get ready for a long journey of self-discovery.
"The challenge is not with the software tools or the software," said Nick Allen, vice president and research director of Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner."The challenge is in knowing yourself."
According to Allen, who spoke during the Storage Decisions conference, storage managers need to take on the task of documenting their current storage workflows and procedures.
"This is what you need to do to develop policy-based provisioning," he said. "The challenge is your workflow, your policies and procedures."
Richard Scannell, vice president of strategy at Framingham, Mass.-based GlassHouse Technologies Inc. and a speaker at the conference, also stressed the importance of developing a more mature IT approach to both backup and recovery and storage resource management (SRM) by refocusing on standard processes and policies.
"Go back to the simple concept of [establishing] a backup calendar. What are the things [you] need to do every day, once a week, once a year, etc.?" Scannell said.
Once they achieve higher levels of SRM maturity, Scannell said, storage managers will see the more proactive behaviors in their IT organizations, including load balancing, data mapping, user policy development and eventually SRM procedures that are directly linked to a company's help desk.
In the meantime, storage users still grapple with how best to document and determine the strategies and policies for their own organizations.
"We have to document everything we do," said Robert Hermiz, a Chicago-based network administrator for J.P. Morgan Chase, who handles tape backup and recovery procedures for 15 to 20 Novell servers. "If you're short on resources, you kind of fall behind. But it still has to be done."
Hermiz is currently working on developing new policies for the firm's tape backup and recovery procedures, a challenge that has been complicated by the company's recent merger of two corporate worlds (J.P. Morgan and Chase Bank), along with two IT organizations and two different sets of policies and procedures.
According to Randy Kerns, senior partner and analyst at the Evaluator Group, Boulder, Colo., there's an even larger picture to consider, and more to do than just developing storage policies and procedures. Managers first need to determine their underlying strategy for handling data storage in their IT organizations.
"Very few companies look at storage strategically," Kerns said. "They need to, but few do."
Gaining unified management buy-off for the time and resource investment required to develop this type of strategy -- which can often be as much as six months -- is key, he said.
"The CIO needs to embrace the idea [of developing] a strategy, then be a champion of it to the other CXOs in the organization," he said. "You have to work at an executive level and go in and sell them the concept."
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Michele Hope is senior site editor for SearchStorage.com. Do you have a comment on this story? Send it to Michele directly.