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How to raise storage visibility

How do you justify the criticality of the needs of the storage management team to get the resources that you need?

What you will learn from this tip: How to get management to recognize the importance of storage to the organization.

How do you justify the criticality of the needs of the storage management team to get the resources that you need?

The main issue is elevating the role of the storage management team within the IT organization. The problem is that the IT organization expects storage to just work. Also, until recently, there were not any choices among the tiers of storage. Everyone in the organization either got a local disk in their host for their application, or their host was connected to a large disk array via SCSI or FCP. Everyone used mirroring for replication, and backed up to a local tape array.

Now storage has evolved, and there are tiers of storage that can provide a full spectrum of offerings -- from high availability and remote DR to low-cost iSCSI disk arrays with SATA drives. The IT organization needs to be involved with the planning process for a new project all the way through the management and archiving of data. This is a new way to think of the role of the storage management group, and the storage manager (yourself) needs to engage in a marketing effort on behalf of the group to elevate the challenges within the storage group to the rest of the organization's business process owners.

You'll have to do some pre-work to document what the group does and what the group is looking to do in the near future. I would suggest that you look at pulling together some real numbers based on the following:

  1. Storage pool size: A historic and future look
  2. Change rate of data growth, based on:
    • Current headcount
    • Number of current projects and projected growth of projects
    • Costs for the efforts: Current and future and what realized reduction in costs can be made by increasing the headcount.
  3. Hardware and software acquisition costs
  4. Host and host software costs
  5. Number of help desk tickets opened for storage and cost per help desk ticket.
This whole process should yield a better understanding of the way things work today. After that, you should set clear goals going forward, and review your progress at set times. I recommend checkpoints of 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, one year, eighteen months and two years. This should all be balanced against the company's goals and demands. IT is just another product and service organization for the rest of the company and needs to be measured against similar goals. With resources come responsibility, so set up some real measurable goals, if you get x resources, you will provide Y, etc.

For more information:

Webcast: Storage Management Survival School

Tip: Do you know your storage management ROI? (You should!)

Tip: How many admins does it take to manage a terabyte?

About the author: Brett Cooper is a Technical Marketing Engineer at Network Appliance, Inc., as well as's storage management/best practices expert.

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