A new report suggests that increasing complexity in technology, regulations and business-unit demands are keeping corporate storage managers so busy that discovering the real state of their own systems is not a top priority.
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Yet, storage managers prefer to spend their time on other storage tasks like data retention and archiving, updating storage infrastructure, consolidating storage and improving data protection, the report concluded.
Keith Baskin, storage practice manager at Norcross, Ga. - based Optimus Solutions, said the report concurs with his own observations.
"Companies perceive these tools as a 'nice to have,' but not a 'got to have,'" Baskin said. "When we use the tools we uncover a lot of files that companies don't need. I have yet to see a customer not be surprised with what we come up with."
Baskin sells IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center for Data Java-based storage-management application set and a SRM application from EMC Corp. He also focuses project pitches on storage systems with enough capacity to accommodate three years' worth of storage increases for each customer. Still, Baskin said, SRM tools can only identify problems; they don't provide solutions.
"The weakness in SRM products today is that they are reporting tools. If you run a report that shows your organization has a few hundred contraband files that are taking up space, you still have to go to that filed system to do the deletions. You can't do the deletions out of the SRM tools themselves," Baskin said.
CIOs, business-unit managers and system administrators all see different levels and types of capacity. Server administrators, for example, might have an accurate estimate based on the storage a particular application can see, but "the true amount of raw storage across the entire environment is often a mystery," the report concludes.
"Without an accurate picture of their storage capacity, storage managers don't know when to buy more, and are likely to be less successful in projects designed to consolidate, virtualize or migrate data or storage systems," said Andrew Reichman, the report's author.
Yet, Bill Colestock, vice president of storage practice at Tallahassee, Fla. - based Mainline Information Systems , believes companies would rather spend on storage systems than buy analysis tools that tell them what the status of their storage is.
Furthermore, storage managers don't want to hear that their storage decisions of the past are inadequate for today's storage planning.
"If I'm the CIO and have invested a million dollars in labor that tells me what the best method to solve my business issues are and a VAR comes in, runs a SRM report that tells the CIO that his method is all screwed up, they don't really want to know that," Colestock said.
Customers that aren't using storage resource management tools just offer VARs the opportunity to sell more SRM tools, or a capacity monitoring and planning service, according to Dave Carpenter, director of business development, at Orange, Calif. - based Insight Integrated Systems.
Insight uses QiNetix from CommVault, Veritas CommandCentral Storage from Symantec, BrightStor from CA and the Storage Horizon product from MonoSphere to perform customer storage assessments.
"We're in the business of data; we're in the business of specifically helping our customers manage all aspects of their data from the way that their data is performing to the way that their data is being accessed to the cost and the overall effectiveness. It gives us a way to offer more value to a customer by bringing them information about their data and about their environment," Carpenter said.