Resolving Finger-Pointing in Storage


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In open storage environments it’s quite common for a person or group of people to be called upon to resolve an issue that involves the hardware and/or software of multiple vendors. More often than not these are very complex problems that need to be resolved quickly and efficiently. I say they are complex as this is the case more often than not, but sometimes they are actually quite simple — albeit not always obvious — to resolve.

What I have seen in many of these cases is that the survival instincts of the vendors in question kick in, with their initial reaction being to protect their turf. When this happens, the vendor can sometimes be a bit too quick to point a finger at another vendor (or vendors) — or even at someone or some group in your company.

As you might imagine, this typically isn’t all that conducive to efficiently resolving the issue at hand. And as someone with extensive experience in having fingers pointed at him, pointing fingers at others, and resolving finger-pointing issues for customers, I see this as an issue that looms larger each day, especially as storage systems become more and more heterogeneous in nature.

So with that said, let’s take a look at how, when, and at whom a finger should be pointed, as well as how to reduce and mitigate finger pointing.

The Players

Here’s a short list of players that might be involved in a storage finger-pointing situation:

  • The Integrator
  • The various hardware vendors, including:
    • Server
    • HBA
    • Switch
    • RAID
    • Remote Connection
    • Tape
  • The various software vendors, including:
    • Operating System
    • File Systems
    • HSM
Of course, you also need to take into account that there may be issues on the local end in which the company:
  • May have a bad cable
  • May have changed a software setting
  • May have changed a hardware setting or configuration
So why do vendors sometimes resort to pointing fingers everywhere but at themselves? The obvious answer is that they would rather not be blamed for a problem that puts them in a situation where you could and likely should ask for compensation for the problem or mistake. This may be the most common reason, but there are others, including a desire to make another vendor look bad (i.e. in an attempt to gain a competitive edge) or because the vendor simply doesn’t know how to resolve the problem, which forces you the customer to find — and pay for — someone to resolve the problem. I have seen each of these happen in real customer scenarios in the not to distant past.

Resolving finger-pointing often boils down to an exercise in good detective work, requiring a bit of solid investigative work to discern where responsibility for the issue ultimately lies.

Page 2: Where to Begin

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