Storage management tools like those from Tek-Tools and APTAR Group are a critical first step in making your storage strategic. You must understand what you have and how it is changing, especially in a server virtualization environment. What is needed here are tools that can trend capacity and performance shortfalls as they occur. Tools like Vizioncore's vOptimizer take this even further by automatically resizing virtual machine images as well as do block alignment for maximum performance.
Storage becomes strategic when it makes revenue generating applications, or customers facing applications move faster. Knowledge of the storage environment, as we detailed in our Visual SSD Readiness Guide, is critical in knowing how to look for areas where improving Storage IO can improve application performance. With the appropriate information you will know if you can add drives, a clustered storage system or if you need to add Solid State Disk (SSD) to deliver that performance.
With this knowledge you can take this information to that application's owners before they complain about performance, and show them how many more transactions they would be able to handle per day. If this increase in transactions leads to an increase in revenue or customer satisfaction and if you can do this on a regular basis, storage is strategic.
Enterprise Search is another area where storage can become a strategic weapon. Clearly part of search is responsive in nature; litigation readiness, case assessment and legal hold management are all important and when being sued vital to an organizations' survival. Companies like Kazeon and Index Engines provide this capability and can extend it beyond. While being better prepared for litigation and lowering the costs of preparation and discovery may justify these solutions, leveraging them further by using them for research makes them even more strategic.
Unstructured data is out of control in most enterprises. If there was data stored that might be able to help a user complete a project faster or more accurately or even more creatively, the chances of them or you knowing that data exists and then finding that data are relatively slim. Enterprise Search, in its strategic sense, can solve this problem and make your data storage a data asset.
There are plenty of other steps to take to move storage from a have to have to make storage strategic, but knowledge, performance and research are the important first steps. Track us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/storageswiss.
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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.