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Planning data backup strategy for the future

The best data backup strategies are developed when resellers understand a customer's business model and the role data storage management plays for that company.

IT channel takeaway: There are several steps to take in developing a successful storage strategy for a customer. Part one in this series of storage strategy tips will get you started.

Randy Kerns

The importance of a storage strategy is obvious for customers in meeting future demands for information technology, but understanding how to develop and implement a storage strategy is an area where many customers need outside expertise. This is a prime opportunity for resellers to offer consulting or professional services.

There are some basic steps in developing a storage strategy for a customer:

1. Understand the company business issues. Whatever is done in IT must meet what the company is doing in business. Keep in mind future business expansion or directional changes that will have to be factored into the strategy.

2. Get the requirements. Different organizations utilizing storage for the business must be interviewed and their requirements understood for growth, performance, availability, etc. This involves more than just collecting how much capacity they need but understanding what their overall requirements are for storage planning on the horizon.

3. Understand the current infrastructure and storage environment. Knowing what the current situation is will be a necessary foundation for planning to meet future needs.

4. Consider strategic initiatives that may be planned or put into effect. These initiatives may include a new facility, upgrading or changing systems, and other long-term projects that will involve storage.

5. Evaluate what is needed to meet requirements in the future. This sometimes involves a complex series of steps to understand how the current situation will have to evolve to meet long-term needs. These steps may include changing storage systems, changing access methods, such as moving to file-based systems and different interface technologies, introducing data movement automation based on policies, and other incremental changes to achieve the target strategy. Future tips will look as some of these steps and their implications more closely.

6. Look at technologies that could be effective in the future. Consider the advantages and risks of implementing the new technology. When new technologies are chosen, they should mature by the time you plan to deploy.

From all this, a strategy that represents the planning horizon can be developed. This horizon is usually in the three-to-five-year range with current tactical implementations already in progress. Using the IT staff along with your outside expertise can be an effective means to develop that strategy, which must be sold internally and then executed as a regular, ongoing project.

Developing a storage strategy is really a business process that must be developed and then executed. Refinement over time will improve the process and speed up successive strategy development. A strategy review should be an annual event, but updating will occur more frequently depending on the significance of changes that must be made.

About the author: Randy Kerns is an independent storage consultant. In the past, he served as vice president of strategy and planning for storage at Sun Microsystems Inc., and covers storage and storage management software including SAN and NAS analysis.


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