Enterprise storage management will likely surface as the most significant contributor to ITO operational savings, because human resources remain the highest data-center cost. These costs will be increasingly important as more servers participate in networked storage (the disk and tape SAN). ITOs must continue to remove the dependencies and stove piped thinking of operating systems and storage management. Many operational economies of scale and flexibility will be gained by employing such an approach (for example, capacity managed per administrator). Certainly, storage management will still need to interface with the other operational disciplines (such as systems management, network management, database administration), but a center of storage management excellence is the design objective.
The goal is to streamline and automate many of the daily tasks that consume staff resources. For example, during the past 24 months, FC fabric management has moved to a core function under the purview of many enterprise storage vendors . And I believe additional tasks, such as storage provisioning/allocating (reducing the number of individuals involved and the time required from hours or days to minutes), resource management (which users/applications are using particular capacities ), and topology mapping (which resourcesphysical or logicalare allocated to applications) will be among the first tasks within multivendor storage administration.
The key is to examine how and which operational tasks can be automated and leveraged (across server operating systems and multivendor storage hardware), enabling storage capacity to increase while storage infrastructure and storage operations staff remain constantor, hopefully, decrease over time.
For automation efficiencies, storage operations should identify solutions that are seamlessly integratedthat is, a single application that can incorporate various functions (possibly multivendor) and not a loosely coupled launching pad (or iconic launch) for disassociated islands of automation. Solutions leveraging a central repository (persistent database) serving as the storage management data warehouse would enable ITO efficiencies gained through the function of individual management components . Moreover, harnessing this repository and feeding (analogous to the real-time data warehousing feedback loop) information to other management elements or ISV applications (such as for chargeback /billing) will be of significant value. Without this next level of integration/consolidation, users will duplicate efforts, not achieve the ability to scale (performance, capacity, and so on) their environments, nor control storage staff costs.
I believe storage provisioning/allocation will be one of the initial fully automated areas, yet this will require organizational (at minimum, functional) changes, because currently this task typically transcends individual and possibly departmental responsibilities (for example, server, database, storage). Simplifying storage allocation, which requires a multitude of individual tasks, is not a simple problem to solve. It typically involves the following:
Assigning/configuring the appropriate LUNs from the physical storage subsystem
Identifying and allocating the number and location of host interconnects on the array
Masking the LUNs to the particular server(s)
Zoning the FC switched fabric
Incorporating and modifying any necessary FC security policies (if available)
Ensuring the volume manager/file system and the application and/or database on the host(s) are updated, and incorporating the desired changes
Ensuring other storage management applications (for instance, backup/recovery, remote replication services) comprehend the changes and the implications of such changes in storage policies
Center-of-excellence (COE) best practices dictate investigating the benefits/returns of consolidation and integration tasks, the most significant of which are those that have the greatest, most immediate impact on the costs that govern operations. Those gains will be seen as an annuity to the business, versus one-time savings. This annuity could be significant not just in dollars, but also in business agility and infrastructure flexibility.