Critical Component to Your Infrastructure: Information Storage

This post was excerpted from Managing Information Storage: Trends, Challenges, and Options 2011-2012 from EMC Corporation and Global Knowledge

The explosion of data, its criticality, and business’ growing dependency on digital information are leading to larger and more complex information storage environments that are increasingly challenging to manage.

IT/storage managers and storage professionals across companies of all sizes face the following mission-critical challenges:

  • Managing storage growth
  • Designing, deploying, and managing storage in a virtualized server environment
  • Designing, deploying, and managing backup, recovery, and archive solutions
  • Storage consolidation
  • Making informed strategic/big-picture decisions
  • Designing, deploying, and managing disaster recovery solutions
  • Lack of skilled storage professionals
  • Designing, deploying, and managing storage in a cloud computing environment
  • Convincing higher management to adopt cloud
  • Managing external cloud service providers

Impact of Cloud Computing

Migrating to a highly virtualized cloud environment is a significant transformation. It requires a considerable amount of technology and business planning. Since cloud computing requires cross skilled expertise, IT professionals are required to have necessary knowledge across technologies that will be used in cloud infrastructure and services.

Complex Storage Environments

Despite the differences in industry segments and the data center size, there is a strong consistency across companies in terms of the technology deployed, storage management practices, and challenges.

Nearly all critical data is now stored on external disk storage subsystems. The average usable capacity is approximately 1.3 PB which is typically spread across multiple sites. Growth in storage requirements, larger capacity disks and subsystems, and affordable pricing have all led to large storage configurations. Storage subsystems, SANs, and backup/recovery technologies are most commonly implemented, followed by NAS, DAS, and replication technologies. Technologies such as storage virtualization and cloud (private and public) have started to emerge strongly.

Each of these storage technology segments is unique, offering their own specific business and operational value. Each requires a different set of skills for effective design and management. Lack of knowledge and expertise in a specific segment can lead to under-deployment of one or more of these technologies.

Criticality of Storage and the Need for Formalized Storage Groups

Storage infrastructure is mission-critical. Losing storage in a catastrophic situation can severely damage a customer’s business. When a disaster does occur, information on storage subsystems can be lost permanently unless a well-designed recovery mechanism is planned and implemented.

In addition to reliable equipment, a well-structured storage group of highly skilled professionals is critical to build and maintain a high-performance, high availability storage infrastructure. Storage groups are responsible for overall planning, design, implementation, monitoring, administering, managing, and operations. While the structure of the group, titles, and roles may not be standardized, responsibilities and tasks are common across companies.

The Storage Technology Knowledge Gap

Although managers prefer to hire experienced or certified storage professionals, a severe shortage of such skills in the marketplace is causing managers to resort frequently to internal recruitment. The skills gap continues to widen as organizations adopt virtualization and cloud computing.

The shortage of experienced storage professionals and the lack of storage technology education in the marketplace and in academics have restricted the growth of information storage and management functions.

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