deploying storage hardware and software may not be the
only way to protect your storage infrastructure from
ailments. It's a good idea to bind it with a storage
management policy which will lay down guidelines and
workflow processes to make your storage infrastructure
the healthiest link in your network. by Soutiman Das
Heads of most large enterprises in India are now aware
of the seriousness of network storage and have taken
positive steps to devise ways to control growing data
volumes. A survey conducted jointly by Network Magazine
(India) and ORG-MARG among 200 CIOs/CTOs/IT Heads of
diverse industry verticals shows that 34 percent of
the polled companies consider network storage as the
focus area in the next year. 81 percent of these companies
stated an increase in storage requirement and the average
rate of increase in storage requirement is 38 percent.
This is a good sign for the industry since this will
lead to better management of data. And better management
will invariably lead to better data security, regular
backup measures, established disaster recovery practices,
and consequently, lesser storage-related ailments.
At this stage of evolving storage management maturity,
enterprises need only swallow a small pill (certainly
not bitter), which will help do away with most storage-related
ailments. The pill is called a 'storage management policy'.
Setting a stage for a policy
Storage on your network is not an object, but a service.
Once you see storage as a service rather than an object,
it is easier and more obvious to understand that provisioning
storage, which is about purchasing disk drives and adding
them to the network is just a minor aspect. And it's
also the easier part of storage management.
Delivering a guaranteed, uniform level of service over
time, and doing it cost-effectively are the harder aspects
of storage management. This means we need a standard
of performance and the ability to measure our delivery.
To offer any committed level of service over time, we
also need to ensure that the actions of one user cannot
interfere with the entitlement of another. This means
we need the ability to control the amount and manner
by which storage resources are used.
Storage volume requirements continue to increase dramatically
over time. SANs and large capacity drives are available
to meet this demand at a wide variety of price points.
The challenge is not one of finding hardware large enough
to accommodate the need. It is one of having the storage
it provides on-line and available at the right moment,
without spending wastefully.
There are also many good storage management software
available that allow you to automate tasks like manually
compiling information, writing scripts, analyzing disks,
partitions, and managing users over and over again.
Storage hardware and software management tools are used
by many enterprises. But companies often overlook the
lack of a clearly articulated policy for their implementation
and the use of the resources they supervise. If you
recognize the value of storage hardware and management
software, then you should also realize the value of
a storage management policy.
The need for a policy
A storage management policy is a set of guidelines that
define the corporate rules and responsibilities for
storage services and usage. Your storage architecture
is incomplete without a storage management policy which
includes support from your user community and senior
Users and management need to understand that they share
a responsibility to participate with you in keeping
things under control and clean for the good of everyone.
Their data is more likely to be available the moment
they want it if the corporate storage resources are
not filled with 'junk'. Simply having the right technology
is not enough. You need to go through a structured policy
development process to address the institutional dynamics
of change, and help your users accept limits where there
were none before. While this may sound like a lot of
work, doing it this way will make your job a lot easier
in the long run.
Forming a policy
The storage management policy can be a document which
consists of a couple of pages that clearly articulates
the rules, roles, and responsibilities of an enterprise.
It can be posted on the Intranet for easy reference
and, in more formal institutions; it can become part
of the employee handbook.
The policy you create needs to be acceptable to the
users and the management, and it needs to be appropriate
to the scope and ability of the technology within the
company. The process you use to develop your storage
management policy and the policy itself should address:
Who gets to set the rules?
Who can make exceptions to the rules?
What should be the default quota size for various
Are there any content prohibitions?
Are storage quotas soft or hard? When do you make
What is the process when users reach quotas?
Management's and users' roles and responsibilities.
Backup and archiving responsibilities and service
Storage administration stack
The Meta Group has designed a Storage Administration
Stack which gives us a logical approach to efficient
storage management. Meta Group feels that companies
which deploy an environment based on the 'storage administration
stack' can manage 2x storage per person versus those
that do not.
The three layers of the storage administration stack
are the conceptual (policy), the physical (infrastructure),
and the operational (operations).
The conceptual (policy) layer: Policies offer the highest-level
view of storage management, dictate the required infrastructure
to meet policy mandates, and should be governed by a
storage policy director. These policies are interdependent
and should be viewed holistically. They include:
Service portfolios and service-level agreements:
Storage policy directors should determine what service
packages they will offer to business units as well as
the associated cost/service tradeoffs based on the needs
of the business units.
Data protection strategies: Not all data is created
equal, and the data protection mechanisms should be
aligned with the service portfolio.
Vendor selection strategies: ITOs should determine,
as a matter of policy, whether to pursue a 'best of
breed' multi-vendor strategy, or a 'one throat to choke'
single-vendor strategy. This may vary from one category
to another, but should be done with an eye toward strategic
The physical (infrastructure) layer: After the
overall storage policies have been determined, a storage
infrastructure architect should be responsible for designing
and implementing the components needed to achieve the
This will include:
Physical topology design:
In most organizations, it will be necessary to use and
integrate SAN, NAS, and DAS either for optimum performance
or security requirements, as well as data protection.
Performance modeling and monitoring: The storage
infrastructure architect should be responsible for not
only designing sufficient resources, but also ensuring
that service levels are met. This includes storage components
and storage networks (FC and fabrics).
Security: Security is an under addressed area in
storage management, but should be made the responsibility
of the storage infrastructure architect.
The operational (operations) layer: Operational
procedures will not vary greatly from current practices,
but should be managed by a storage administrator.
Resource allocation: The actual assignment of
storage (Logical Unit Numbers (LUN), data zones, and
volumes) should be done according to architectural/
Backup/Recovery operations: Backup/Recovery should
be included with storage management, not systems management.
This will include scheduling, media management, and
Setting user quota
Marketing or Graphics
Dua , Senior Research Analyst, Information Technology
Practice at Frost & Sullivan says, "most enterprises
have not put in place a proper storage management policy
primarily because it's often regarded as a sensitive
issue. Companies may feel that, by implementing such
a policy the organization is putting a restriction on
the amount of storage one person or group can use and
also limiting the types of files that users can store
on the storage service. In simple words, you are asking
the users to place limits on something they currently
perceive as infinite or free. Before implementing such
a policy the users need to be educated about the rationale
behind putting in place such a policy and also told
how each user is likely to benefit from such an initiative.
Organizations need to realize that storage management
policy has little to do with the technology and has
more to do with changing the mindset of the actual users.
People need to be clear why the company is implementing
storage management. They need to know what their role
in the process may be. Enterprises should go through
a structured policy development process in order to
address the institutional dynamics of change and at
the same time helping users to abide by the new limits
set by the new policy.
points to consider before policy-making
Recognize that you need a clear storage management
policy, not just storage hardware and management
Understand that you need buy-in from all parts
of the organization to be successful in implementing
Use proven techniques to set up your policy
for implementing a storage management policy
Try these approaches to get the best response
to the storage management policy.
Use a team approach
Keep all users involved
Keep the management involved
Use a pilot group of users
Allow a substantial transition period
sample storage management policy
Refer to box: Setting users quotas
Shared directory quotas
As appropriate for each shared resource based
on actual use
Prohibited files for servers
MPx (which includes MP3, MP2, and others)
- all music files
VBS - virus protection
PST - no personal e-mail stores (security
GIF and .JPG - for those concerned with downloaded
images and objectionable content
Prohibited files for workstations
DOC, .XLS, .PPT - corporate work product is
required to be stored on server directories
VBS - virus protection
PST - (as above)
GIF;.JPG - (as above)
BACKUP & ARCHIVE
Full backup weekly, primarily for disaster recovery,
incrementals done nightly, weekly tapes off-site
after 1 week
(Optional) If present, then integrated with
Automatic (but not instantaneous) for archive,
4 hours from backup tape
Four second maximum delay accessing any server-based
Source: NTP Software
Das Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org