There is a moral to the stories I've been telling these last two weeks. The moral is: PLAN! You snort and reply, "Yeah, sure - planning takes time and expertise, and I have neither!" But you either pay now or you'll pay a lot more later.
None of us have hundreds of thousands of dollars extra to throw to the winds of poor planning. You must take the time, up front. If your company doesn't have the expertise, there are tools and professional service organizations available to help you pull together a strategy and then a plan to implement the strategy.
I have praised storage resource management tools to help proactively manage storage resources. Most of these tools, because they help manage the resources, have the capability to discover the current storage environment and report on it.
Understanding what you have and how much of it is being used is the first step in understanding how to proceed. Companies like EMC, Precise/WQuinn, Sun and TeraCloud can provide customers with SRM tools.
Once you know what you have, it is important to understand how effectively you are managing the environment. Companies like Bocada provide tools that will audit your backup and recovery environment, across software platforms, and report on how effective the back-up process is - what completed, what failed, how much data was backed up, and so forth.
To help take what you now know about your environment and build a strategy and an implementation plan, professional service organizations can save you time and money by bringing the experience and knowledge required to bare. Companies such as Imation, EMC, IBM Global Services, and SANZ have experience with the latest storage architectures and technologies. Of course, vendor-specific professional service groups will recommend their own products over others. When seeking out a professional service organization to help you evaluate your needs, check references and be sure they have experience doing what you are requiring of them.
You may think you don't "have time" to plan a storage strategy - but in fact, you have neither the time nor the money you will spend if you don't have a strategy. You gotta have a plan!
Anne Skamarock is an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates (http://www.enterprisemanagement.com). She has worked with networked storage for the last 15 years and is currently focused on the storage practice within EMA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org