Storage Users Speak Out Page 2


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Alleviating the Pain

SNIA groups were among the first to answer the call with initatives and programs to alleviate the pain.

SNIA's Storage Management Forum (SMF) incorporated pain point feedback and engaged IT end user participation in establishing requirements for the Storage Management Initiative Standard (SMI-S). SMF chair Ray Dunn said the current version of SMI-S (v. 1.0.2) "delivers a reliable interface allowing storage management systems to identify, classify, monitor and control physical and logical storage resources."

According to Dunn, more than 100 storage products conform to SMIS-S v. 1.0.2. Now for the first time, he said, "end users and integrators can ask for vendor products that conform to a functionally rich, open, secure and extensible storage management interface standard."

SNIA's Education Continuum focused on expanding educational opportunities and options available to end users and the IT industry. New and expanded technical certification and qualification courses have been developed to help IT professionals, product managers and developers to better expand and deploy storage products through improved understanding of practices, technologies and standards.

Randy Kerns, senior partner at the Evaluator Group, said the Education Continuum offers a way for end users to make more informed purchasing decisions and be better equipped to get the most out of their storage infrastructure.

SNIA's Data Management Forum (DMF) is focusing on solutions to pain points that revolve around the difficulty of matching technology capabilities to prioritized business requirements of an organization. DMF work includes developing business practices and policies that can be practiced by general management and used to give clear guidance to the IT professionals that must support the business objectives, and giving the IT professionals the tools, methodologies and standards that enable them to meet stated business needs. Survey feedback has been used to craft an information lifecycle management (ILM) initiative that defines a unifying vision of what ILM will become and its impact on the data center. DMF chair Sheila Childs expects these efforts to make the DMF more "customer-centric and better connected to our partnership with the EUC and the information technology community."

New Challenges

EUC discussions with their constituencies and attendees at October's Storage Networking World conference found that their first survey had an impact: the pain points were real, and the call to action points rang true.

Survey respondents' requests for simpler and more effective SAN management, improved storage management capability, reliability and availability, and business continuity continue to rank at the top of IT managers' wish list. The old ways of CIO/IT departments making decisions in isolation have been set aside in a movement to understand the total lifecycle of hardware and software investments throughout the organization, along with a renewed focus on total cost of ownership (TCO). Return on investment (ROI) needed to be tied to reducing TCO or linked to providing new and improved services with business-related benefits.

IT managers spoke of decision makers changing functions in their organizations and new titles being added to the mix. They emphasized the shortage of qualified or certified storage networking professionals in their organizations. Better tools and methods to manage personnel and projects, and metrics to report management success to corporate executives, were called for regardless of the size of the organization.

Interoperability issues, cited in Pain Points 3, 4 and 5, were a common complaint. More diagnostic and debug tools for SANs were requested.

These user issues and concerns have been captured into a second survey for EUC members and the IT professional community titled, "Storage Management: Where Are We Now?" According to Norman Owens, EUC governing board member and survey committee chair, "We're expanding on the Top Ten Pain Points survey and focusing more directly on challenges users said gave them the biggest headaches." These challenges include expansion and consolidation in corporate operations; data growth and complexity; faster, more intelligent networks; and technical innovations in user interfaces and storage. Owens also expects the survey to identify challenges that are expected to emerge in 2005. The survey will be online by the Spring Storage Networking World conference in April 2005. More information on EUC surveys is available at http://advisorygroups.SNIA.org.

Are you a storage end user professional? Do you agree with the list of top ten pain points? Send us your feedback and let us know what keeps you up at night, and what you're doing about it!

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