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In the not so distant past, physical storage was dedicated to individual servers, and storage management was a part-time job for system administrators. Because of this, storage could not be shared across applications, and the amount of storage that could be managed by one employee was extremely limited. Companies began to address this problem through dedicated storage teams, a concept that has continued with the complexity of networked storage. But are dedicated storage teams for everyone?
Many larger enterprises have found that they can deal with constant storage tasks by attacking them with storage-only personnel, but owners of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have fewer resources and understandably have doubts whether the concept of a dedicated storage team could work for them. IT generalists tend to be where it's at for SMBs.
Richard Martin, director of EMC's Technology Solutions Group, says many small to mid-size enterprises face a difficult time obtaining economies of scale when managing a storage environment, making training and support for IT personnel a critical requirement.
"It is important for these companies to train and support their IT personnel and provide the appropriate management tools so that they can enhance storage management efficiencies," says Martin.
John Joseph, vice president of marketing at EqualLogic, says SANs have been a good solution for consolidating storage resources at large enterprises for years now, but the SAN solutions developed for this market have been complex, expensive and time-consuming to manage.
"It is no wonder that only the largest and wealthiest companies could afford networked storage," says Joseph.
But a move toward easier-to-manage storage holds promise for smaller enterprises.
David Scott, president and CEO of 3PAR, says that while having skilled people in place is an important aspect of any IT strategy, to be competitive, enterprises must apply advanced technology rather than an overabundance of highly skilled and platform-specialized expertise to create cost and service-level advantages. This, he believes, is especially critical for SMBs, where IT departments may not have the luxury of being able to maintain a dedicated storage team.
Many companies don't have dedicated storage-only staffing because they must utilize all of their technical staff on a rotating basis to cover on-call requirements.
Ron Trautwein, executive director of IT at Seagate, says this means that the technical staff must have a working knowledge across many areas, rather than just being dedicated to one task. He believes that small and mid-sized companies would find the cost of a dedicated storage staff too expensive.