Storage strategy, architecture rate low on wish list

A new survey has found IT managers have missed the mark when it comes to the more important data storage management activities.

In a StorageTek survey of 156 managers in 97 medium to large organizations, storage strategy and architecture design don't rate amongst their top priorities.

In fact storage strategy ranked seventh and storage architecture and design ranked fifth.

StorageTek managing director Australia and New Zealand, Philip Belcher, said this is a classic case of "firefighting getting in the way of fire prevention".

"Storage managers today are spending most of their time on tactical functions, like managing the myriad activities required to keep a modern storage environment running smoothly," Belcher said.

"Very little time is spent on strategic aspects such as strategy setting, designing robust storage solutions and setting policies to govern the management of these solutions.

"Ironically, there are tools, policies and automation techniques available to reduce the workload for these intensively tactical areas, but the catch is, it takes time to do the strategy and planning to create the environment in which this can occur, and most data storage and IT professionals are just too busy to do it."

The survey also questioned storage management policies in organizations and found that fewer than a third of organizations (31.4 percent) had specialist storage management people with 42.9 percent of respondents claiming it was handled by a team along with other tasks.

"Where specialist storage management teams are not in place, tactical activities and other priorities will continue to get in the way of strategic storage management initiatives," Belcher said.

The survey revealed relatively low adoption rates for more modern and sophisticated storage management tools, a likely contributing factor to the high percentage of time that storage managers devote to tactical activities.

"The most commonly deployed storage management tools are performance management and monitoring tools, a fairly mature aspect of storage management," Belcher said.

"More recent and powerful technologies such as SRM (storage resource management) and content analysis tools are far less prevalent."

The main impediment to improving storage management, the survey found, is lack of time and resources but most importantly, poor organizational commitment.

"On the surface, these results suggest a lack of recognition by upper management of storage management's strategic importance," Belcher said. To gain organizational commitment, storage managers need to speak in business language rather than in techno babble."

However, IDC director of storage research Asia Pacific Graham Penn questioned the accuracy of the findings.

Penn said asking respondents what percentage of their storage management effort was committed to storage activities may have given misleading results.

"There can be storage activities which are critically important to an organization but may not take a lot of time," Penn said.

"Just because something is important it doesn't mean you have to spend hours and hours on it."

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