When it comes to storage resource forecasting, it's good practice to use both of the basic approaches to forecasting: quantitative and qualitative. But as important as it is to use both of these methods, it's jusst as important to stay flexible. There are always outside influences, such as regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and general economic cycles, that can greatly impact your storage resource needs.
These five tips will help you develop an accurate process for forecasting storage resources:
- Start at the top. Communicate the value of forecasting to senior IT management and the business units. Ask them to sponsor the forecasting initiative; key stakeholders are more likely to actively participate if management endorses the effort.
- Develop accurate metrics. Your forecasting metrics should be meaningful to all interested parties. Once a forecasting initiative has gained senior management's attention, meaningful metrics will solidify the value of the initiative for senior managers. Doubt about the accuracy of the metrics can undermine credibility, thereby damaging the forecasting initiative. Since it's important that storage reporting metrics can be generated on a regular basis and without a great deal of effort, you should automate the process of collecting data and generating reports.
- Talk to vendors about capacity on demand. A low-risk way to build flexibility into a resource plan is to negotiate a capacity-on-demand buying process. Under such a plan, a vendor installs the maximum capacity gear, but charges only for the capacity used. Capacity on demand makes it easier to add storage capacity by eliminating or reducing setup and configuration time. Vendors are amenable to capacity-on-demand contracts because they improve their chances for additional sales.
- Incorporate compliance policies. Corporate compliance policies can affect the amount of storage capacity required. Organizations often save information in multiple forms (electronically and on paper), resulting in wasted storage capacity. Corporate compliance policies can address this by defining the types of information to be saved and where it should go.
- Integrate storage with a single IT capacity-planning initiative. A storage forecasting process should be integrated into a general IT initiative chartered to perform capacity planning for all IT resources, including storage, servers, networking, telecommunications, facilities, headcount, and so on. It's important to leverage the many activities that contribute to the capacity-planning process, such as forecasting, budgeting and general business planning. This kind of initiative is usually driven by the CIO or another high-level IT executive.
This article was adapted as a tip for SearchStorage.com from "Storage" magazine's October issue. To read the full article, click here.
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About the author: Dan Weinstein is a senior consultant for GlassHouse Technologies Inc., Framingham, Mass.