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A Bracketed Discussion

You know, the kind where you want to decide where to go for dinner, and suddenly your significant other/spouse/soulmate is off and running on the past, present, and future of the relationship and why you never ... well, you get the point.
You know, the kind where you want to decide where to go for dinner, and suddenly your significant other/spouse/soulmate is off and running on the past, present, and future of the relationship and why you never ... well, you get the point.

This is actually good practice for when you try to talk to a vendor or reseller about storage capacity planning. Why? Because this very specific function you want help with snowballs quickly into a referendum on the future and sanctity of your enterprise's data -- maybe its very existence.Very quickly you may find yourself talking about tiered storage theories, data classification schemes, policy networking, and data life cycle management software -- everything but capacity planning. And just like with the dinner discussion, this can usually be a good time to remind everyone to take a long, deep breath.

This is on my mind since I just finished reporting a story for Byte and Switch on how users approach the issue of capacity planning. Essentially what I wanted to find out was:

  • How do they handle this function? (Answer: Some built-in system tools, spreadsheets, and a combination of instinct and wisdom.)

  • What do they mean when they talk about capacity planning? (How much raw capacity they have, how much they've already used, and a fairly simple trend report that tells them when they'll run out based on current usage trends.)

  • Does capacity planning require storage customers to take a larger, holistic approach to data management? (In short: No. You can still keep your eye on the big picture without spending half your annual budget to overhaul how you classify and archive e-mail, spreadsheets, and other business documents.)
  • Still, it's hard to get a vendor to bracket the discussion when it comes to capacity planning. Selling is, after all, what they do. I asked a couple vendors about this, and only IBM bothered to respond. I'll post their side of this data management discussion tomorrow.

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