The Basics of SAN Implementation, Part I Page 5


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Managed Storage Ratios

Pooled storage increases the total capacity of data management duties that can be assigned to a database administrator (DBA) or storage administrator. When compared to data growth by server, implementation of central, pooled, or SAN strategies can reduce the staff growth requirements.

SLA/OLA Qualitative Metrics

For IT departments that operate with service level agreement SLA or operating level agreements (OLA), the compliance to these cases could be traced to the storage team (for those elements that relate to storage). Examples might be:

  • Business hours lost per year, correlated to the storage team.
  • Cost of billed $/GB/month.
  • Mean time to repair (MTTR), mean time between failures (MTBF) of components and design.
  • Meeting backup and restore windows.
  • Successful disaster recovery (DR) tests.
  • The storage management team's impact on new business initiatives.

Interdependencies with Other IT Organizations

Finally, specialized storage teams, such as those that administer pooled storage systems, will have dependencies on other existing organizations within the IT department. As previously mentioned, the formation of a specialized team may be an evolutionary activity. So, the close inclusion of other disciplines in the first few months is essential. As the storage team improves its role and becomes more efficient, these associations will have some long-term implications. These dependencies will also be built into the team, in the case where the storage team is a virtual team (that is, people are loaned or assigned to participate in the storage functions). A tour-of-duty rotation scheme will allow for a variety of opportunities to learn and refresh skills, and can provide improvements in the application of skills for a longer time.

Summary and Conclusions

Many enterprises will be required to make changes to their IT organizations to effectively manage the new technology, especially with the rapid acceptance of pooled storage architectures, storage area networks (SANs), and consolidated data management. Some of these changes may be subtle. But, with SAN implementation, a new set of skills, assignments, roles, and responsibilities must be carefully considered.

Decisions on SAN implementation topology will have varying impacts on the organizational options that must be considered. Most IT shops already have in place best practices and procedures needed by the new SAN implementation team, but these practices and procedures must be assembled and slightly modified for this new technology. Depending on the phase of SAN implementation, requisite internal skills will need to be purchased, borrowed, developed, and recruited. Therefore, in order to document effectiveness of the SAN and storage operations, there are meaningful measurements to apply to the SAN implementation team.

Organizational needs should not be left to chance, or left out altogether as part of the planning and design of the SAN, especially when considering adaptation of pooled storage and SAN implementation technology. The organization's strengths, weaknesses, and adaptability will impact SAN implementation. So, these options need to be carefully reviewed in parallel with all technical decisions under consideration.

Implementation planning for the organization and staff for a medium-to-large SAN project should not be an afterthought. This technology has as much impact to some staff and reporting structures as direct attached storage has to servers. The enterprise must also consider in the early planning and architectural stages, the separation of storage from general enterprise computing and the storage management staff skills needed to manage company data.

Finally, so many of the recommendations and options presented in this article, should be evaluated and implemented only when deemed appropriate to the enterprise, since no two companies are the same. IT departments that proactively plan for the SAN team in conjunction with the SAN implementation, tend to sort out the problems of span and control early in the deployment, and have more successful technology transitions. Best practices and documented procedures for storage management, control, and operation, usually outweigh benefits of any software or automation product. Through the use of pooled storage systems, clear objectives, operational metrics, and success criteria, can empower the team to achieve the greatest results.

With that in mind, Part II of the Basics of SAN Implementation discusses the implementation of SANs with regards to backups, clusters, appliances and database applications. See you there!

About the Author :John Vacca is an information technology consultant and author. Since 1982, John has authored 36 technical books including The Essential Guide To Storage Area Networks, published by Prentice Hall. John was the computer security official for NASA's space station program (Freedom) and the International Space Station Program, from 1988 until his early retirement from NASA in 1995. John can be reached at jvacca@hti.net.

» See All Articles by Columnist John Vacca

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