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5/27/2009
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Selecting Your Next Storage Project - Big Projects

In a prior entry we discussed how to select your next storage project and suggested that most IT professionals are going to focus on smaller projects. Basically filling in pot holes as opposed to paving a new road. There are times however, even when staffing is scarce and money is tight that you need to undertake a big storage project to fix the problem, essentially putting a new road in.

In a prior entry we discussed how to select your next storage project and suggested that most IT professionals are going to focus on smaller projects. Basically filling in pot holes as opposed to paving a new road. There are times however, even when staffing is scarce and money is tight that you need to undertake a big storage project to fix the problem, essentially putting a new road in.As we discussed in our article "Maximizing Your Storage Cost Cutting Efforts" the first step in any storage project is knowing what you have and to have some tool to trend what you will need. In today's environment with Server Virtualization, Storage Virtualization, exponential capacity growth and numerous tiers of storage (SSD, Fibre, SATA, SAS, Archive, Backup) tracking all this by a spreadsheet is simply too slow and time consuming, by the time you update the spreadsheet it will be out of date.

Once you know what you have and understand what the big picture is, understand what the highest priority is. This typically is the project that when completed could either save the company the most money either through cost reductions or protection from an outside event like a disaster or lawsuit, or it is the project that can make the company the most money through increased user productivity or customer response time. In a tight budget with tighter staffing resources it is important not to undertake too many of these projects simultaneously.

I find that the "make more money" projects are often the easiest to get approved in tough economic times. Most often in storage this involves increasing performance of that storage. As we have detailed in many entries this can be faster storage systems, scaled out storage systems or even SSD's that allow quicker and better response and more productive users.

Ironically the "save you money projects" like improving your ability to recover from a disaster to reducing the cost to service a legal discovery request are harder to get approved, even though their savings could be more substantial. The exception is if your organization recently experienced one of these events. For example the gulf coast region of the US is having little problems getting DR projects approved.

It is ideal that with either of these project types when they can be tied to saving present day dollars in addition future ones. With the performance improvement projects these systems often include thin provisioning, fewer management points and more cost effective to not only reduce the current storage footprint but also reduce the future consumption rate.

Similarly, save money projects can better organize data, move it to a secondary tier or in the case of DR leverage server virtualization and storage efficiency techniques to lower the cost of the DR site while expanding its scope.

Big projects can still be approved, there just has to be better data to support their need in years past, while at the same time tying those projects to immediate cost savings as well as the long term value of the project.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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