Storage Soup

Apr 12 2012   12:20PM GMT

Consumerization of IT leads to accidental storage admins

Randy Kerns Randy Kerns Profile: Randy Kerns

One of the ongoing changes in IT is the transition to IT generalists configuring and managing storage in all but the largest enterprises. This was always common in small enterprises, but now is increasingly the case in the mid-tier enterprise, too. Beyond storage, the IT generalist handles server operating systems, networking, and the virtualization hypervisors.

Another dynamic occurring along these lines is called the consumerization of IT. People that use technology such as smart phones or iPads in their daily lives are becoming administrators at the IT generalist level. The general consumer technology user:

· Must know about setting up accounts and security.

· Understand how to protect data in the cloud.

· Know how to migrate data to a new device.

· Understand about setting file sharing options such as access to photos on Snapfish.

What has happened here?  IT operations have become part of many people’s lives.  Most are doing these administrative tasks out of necessity with no training other than some interactive guidance.  Some do it incorrectly, some struggle through the administration, and others provide services – in my case, I’m the admin for the PCs, etc. for my daughters.

This shift even changes the way midrange enterprise storage is managed. Element managers (the storage vendor’s storage system management software) must be designed with expectations that an IT generalist will manage the storage environment.

Storage vendors should assume the IT generalist using the element manager has a limited base of storage knowledge. They should expect that no manual will be read either on paper or in electronic form. And they should realize that when there is a complex set of choices, they should assume the wrong one will be tried first and correction action or second chances will be necessary.

This leads to the demand for a new GUI that is highly interactive with icons to demonstrate actions and status. The GUI must seem simple, belying the underlying complexity.

Without a plan and real education, we’ve created a mass unpaid workforce of IT generalists.  So, when do we get a new generation of storage administrators without planning for it?

(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).

4  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Cmpstor
    Maybe companies should start hiring Storage professionals instead of trying to have one person wear many hats. That person now has to go to blogs to find an answer and good luck with that. This is typical corporate business. I'm surprised that they haven't farmed the work to India.
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  • ITBEAR
    What will happen is that over time companies will realize the benefit of a dedicated Storage Administrator after having suffered through many misconfigurations and missteps. I anticipate that this wil occur within 3-5 years. The other dynamic that is playing out is that companies are accepting the risk without necessarily understanding the full impact of this decision which sort of plays into my first answer.
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  • Tonytapes
    CM You are exactly correct. In NYC at a Major Brokerage firm I am worth 130K plus bonus. Is there someone out there that thinks he or she can do my job as a side line. If so , they have a scoop and should tell CIOs of most large companies they are wrong to pay for 30 million dollars worth of company assets being managed by specialists . Secondly, I would challange ANYT one of these generalists, that I can look art thier storage and find 10 things being done inncorrectly, causing A) money waste B) performance to customer issues C) exposure to Disaster probabilities Any takers :) Doubtful, since all non professional storage folks think they know what they are doing..
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  • Tonytapes
    this could be one reason that storage cost is throug the roof
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