Storage Soup

May 2 2008   8:12AM GMT

The Storage Admin, DR, and the Down Market

Tskyers Tory Skyers Profile: Tskyers


The economy has been on the mind of just about everybody recently, and with good reason. Gas at near record highs, unemployment rising, housing values reportedly dropping, the credit crunch and foreclosures numbering in the bazillions it is easy to see why people are not exactly upbeat about the state of our economy.

In the storage market, however, it’s looking like a blockbuster year. EMC and others are reportedly on track to meet or beat financial analysts’ estimates, and that leads me to today’s blog.

As it turns out, the impetus for this blog post was my recent attendance at a DR seminar put on by Storage Decisions featuring Jon Toigo. Looking around the room, I couldn’t help but think of what it looked like in the early days of “network administrators” when people didn’t think of network pros as any different from the server guys. Today, the storage admin is being called on to be part lawyer, part business analyst, part networking guru and all-knowing about all things storage, but there are very few companies with a dedicated storage team (outside the Fortune 500’s that have Exabytes of storage to manage).

For the most part (and please chime in with your experience) storage folks are still viewed as “server guys”. This is, of course, changing, and I wouldn’t bring it up if there weren’t a bigger point to be made: if you do a quick scan of Monster, Dice or Jobcircle, there are more and more listings specifically calling for a “Storage Administrator”. Storage is fast becoming the segment to be in–the information infrasructure could not function without it, and it is increasingly becoming the focus of much planning and resource allocation, in terms of both time and money. Talk to most companies, and they have storage budgets that are going up even in a down market, and they are hiring people to dedicate to the task of storage. Storage pros are more highly valued, and their pay is going up.

So what does this have to do with DR? DR is, at its basic level, moving data from one place to another, on a regular basis, far enough away that if you had a disaster you could recover your data and continue operations in the face of a disaster. This, in almost every case that I can think of, requires storage, storage networking technologies and someone who knows enough about them to set it all up and keep it working in a changing environment. Hence all the storage pros in the room vs business types that normally involve themselves in DR.

Toigo put on a great presentation. It was filled with a ton of valuable information and even if you have nothing to do with the DR planning and implementation at your company, I would enthusiastically recommend attending one in your area. I walked in thinking I had a passable grasp of DR best practices and walked out realizing I had barely scratched the surface, and that as a storage professional I needed to understand more about business practices as they relate to DR.

For example, Toigo discussed what a data model was and not only how to build one but suggestions on explaining it to non-technical analysts so we could all use it together to ultimately build a workable DR plan around valuable data instead of putting together a set of technologies to make our systems highly available but unable to really recover from a disaster. And it’s the storage guy who should be taking the lead on that.

Think of the value you bring to the table when you can not only provide the information infrastructure, but also assist in developing a DR plan that will keep the business functioning, and generating revenue in a disaster. In the process, you can also create things that have intrinsic value to multiple business units–think of what information security can do if they know what a document or document type is worth as compared to other documents. My fellow storage pros, I’m seeing a bright future for us.

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  • Davenportgroup
    Toigo puts perspective on IT, and does so to stimulate your thinking and entertain you at the same time. Sitting in one of his seminars is a "must" for everyone in IT. Storage is everything as it houses our data. Think about any DR plan by any company worth it salt - 1st - your people - make sure they are safe, their family is safe, they have food, water, communication, housing, etc 2nd - the data, get the data With the 1's & 0's increasingly flooding the networks and piling up on the back end, storage admins are becoming more and more valuable and visible. My underlying theme is for IT to gain control over data. That needs to happen now, while it is still possible. Does anyone out there think that this "hockey stick" of growth is gonna slow down anytime soon? Paul Clifford Davenport Group
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