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Six requirements for successful provisioning

Before you even think of provisioning new storage, it's essential to create specific procedures for this multilevel process.

This article first appeared in "Storage" magazine in the September issue. For more articles of this type, please visit

What you will learn from this tip: How to align business and technical requirements for successful provisioning.

Before you even think of provisioning new storage, it's essential to create specific procedures for this multilevel process.

Classes of service. The first prerequisite is a clear definition of each service level's attributes to provide a foundation of common understanding between business units and the storage group. Ideally, class of service is backed by a financial model, so business units can choose service levels that match their business needs. Defining a class of service is more than specifying a type of primary storage -- other attributes may include availability, performance, scalability, backup, recovery, archiving, disaster recovery (DR) and security.

The request process. How business units request storage provisioning must be a documented process subject to organizational policy with explicit expectations of service. The procedure should define workflow and authorization along with performance metrics and completion artifacts.

Document the environment. Provisioning depends on discovering and measuring asset utilization of the entire environment. This includes arrays and controllers, storage network components, tape subsystems, media and management servers, links for replication and recovery site storage. This also includes documenting host initiators, multiple data paths, switches, routers, fan-out/fan-in ratios, interswitch linking, management LANs and associated firewalls, array controllers, etc.

Understanding capacity. Provisioning doesn't stop at primary storage. When a gigabyte is requested, five to 30 times that amount will be needed in secondary storage, depending on backup and archiving requirements. This may affect network traffic to backup servers, servers' processing loads and tape subsystems.

DR, particularly for top-tier applications, may mean additional requirements. The requested storage and its data change rate can affect synchronous and semi-synchronous links and may require storage at the recovery site.

Determine utilization. Another prerequisite is knowing the capacity that's actually available. This isn't just the storage requested, but also the fabric consequences of adding primary storage. Traffic, dual paths and fan-in/fan-out ratios can all be affected by provisioning new storage. Utilization must be carefully defined; databases and volume managers grab chunks of space that appear to be used, but aren't fully utilized.

Interoperability and standards. A number of standards have to be in place. To some extent, standards are required because heterogeneous storage and SANs aren't fully interoperable. They're also required to identify default LUN size and for mapping initiators to LUNs to protect the fabric's integrity. Depending on class of service, standards are required for dual-path capability, acceptable fan-out/fan-in ratios, use of interswitch links and port connectivity on the array.

Read the rest of article Storage magazine.

For more information:

Tip: The best practices of storage management

Advice: Using provisioning tools

Tip: Defining critical storage management functions

About the authors: Jim Damoulakis is CTO and Dick Benton is a senior consultant for GlassHouse Technologies, an independent storage services firm.

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