Storage management shouldn't be separate

With the silo-like alignment of IT organizations in the not-too-distant past, where storage and systems groups worked together but were separate, the lines between the two were clearer. However, storage-area networks blur the lines.

Storage management was traditionally closely aligned with systems management, and for good reason. Storage devices were typically directly attached to systems or dependent upon a server. Storage was inherently dependent on systems because the systems managed the disks and provided much of the intelligence.

SANs represent a convergence of the storage and network worlds.

SANs combine networking and storage technologies to flexibly deliver storage that is no longer dependent upon discreet systems, but is independently available as a part of the infrastructure.

As storage and network IT staffs have begun to speak the same lingo and work with common elements (i.e., switches, routers, protocols, and even topologies), this alignment has slowly evolved and continues to evolve.

The net result is that storage management has made a major shift toward network management.

Although the new storage architectures are very network-centric, servers and blade servers are still critical pieces of the puzzle. The storage technologies are using server and blade technologies, and can leverage many of the same system management functions, such as performance management and capacity planning.

Storage management should converge with the other management disciplines to effectively manage the infrastructure with storage as an integral piece. For example, say there is a performance slowdown in the infrastructure. If the network administrator checks out his network, and the system admin checks out his systems, then in parallel the storage admin checks her storage, isolating the problem is so much more difficult and takes much longer.

Managing storage as part of an integrated management product gives a cohesive view of the infrastructure and takes advantage of the relevant experience and expertise that have been developed in the other disciplines.

In many management products, storage is still effectively managed or sold in a separate silo, when it should be an integrated part of the whole. In some cases, the storage management products are sold in parallel with a vendor's other products and are not integrated with the other management tools in a comprehensive view. Be sure to check this out before buying into a management suite. How can you talk about end-to-end management when storage is all by itself?

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