01 December 2002
Home away from home
By Steve Lefferdink
Because of the growing data intensity of computer-aided design/manufacturing/engineering applications and the increasingly collaborative nature of the design-to-manufacturing process delivered by the Internet, manufacturers are reassessing the way they use and store their data.
Data storage has grown from being direct attached to having multiple data centers with large storage pools located throughout the world. This phenomenon spawned what we now call storage resource management (SRM).
Deployed properly, SRM gives a manufacturing enterprise better control over present and future storage; the dynamic capability to consolidate and migrate storage; centralization of the backup process when data is lost; and the ability to expand the system to other locations.
The Meta Group, an IT research and consulting firm, estimated that computerized data is compounding between 60% and 100% annually. Information has to be available at all times and must be protected and quickly recoverable to prevent costly downtime.
SRM is not a storage hardware product or software or professional services. It's all of these. It's also a process, and a company needs to implement this process with a well-defined strategy. There are seven basic facets in a successful SRM strategy:
1) Provisioning: analysis, reallocation, and acquisition of storage resources for the network
2) Control: managing content volume, costs, system design, and training
3) Performance management: monitoring of performance, availability, standards, and quality
4) Protection: assuring business continuance by securing data access, business rules, and documents against loss
5) Reporting and cost allocation: providing users, management, IT departments, and accounting with the information they need to make intelligent decisions
6) Maximizing application uptime: providing higher levels of fault tolerance and data availability
7) Flexible, scalable storage solutions: adapting to changing IT requirements without disrupting data access
Developing an effective SRM strategy demands a hard look at the company's design-to-manufacturing environment and a thorough assessment of the process.
It should not begin with storage but rather with an audit of the entire enterprise. What's the server population? What are the capacities? What type of network is used? How many locations are there? What is network performance like? Where are the bottlenecks? What is the cost of downtime? What kind of replication is in place? What is the present storage strategy? What are the business goals associated with the SRM strategy? What is the budget?
It's important that manufacturers reevaluate the traditional return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO) standards normally used as pre purchase justification.
The Meta Group said ROI should serve for overall corporate performance, not component purchasing criteria. Similarly, the improper use of TCO calculations leads to erroneous conclusions. Accurate TCO calculations depend on cost accounting methodologies usually unfamiliar to IT technologists.
Here are six SRM-related measurements for IT people evaluating the effectiveness of their storage:
1) Storage managed per administrator
2) Data life cycle multiplier
3) Percentage of storage in inventory
4) Days storage is in inventory
5) Data availability
6) Mean time to recovery
Storage resource management overview
Steve Lefferdink is vice president of MTI Technology (www.mti.com).