The Mysterious Storage Architect

In 2010, I attended the MVP Summit in Redmond and two Tech Field Day events and since then I have been thinking quite alot about storage and data center technology in general.  The storage arena, while still new to me in many respects, is becoming clearer all the time.  Sure the bottom line is still the same… things run on disk and without storage (and reliable backup) you haven’t got much to worry about (I suppose, depending on how you look at it).

What role am I?

Because I work in a small IT shop, I often wonder what my real role is within the company, and I imagine that some of you who read this blog, especially if you are new to your position or transitioning among several roles, have this feeling as well.

Because the do more with less concept in many organizations is the only way of life, IT often has to get as much as possible (and usually more) out of any investments that are made.  This is a great case for great storage.  Being someone who can get an organization to understand what storage is and why it is paramount is something that many try to master, but few can.

Does it matter?

In many organizations, especially the small ones with five or less IT staff, the usual role is option D all of the above.  When something with a port or a plug has trouble, you will be asked to fix it.  So in this case it doesnt matter what your role is, but in the bigger organizations (or the IT focussed organizations) roles can be a bit more defined and held up.  If you are a programmer, you get to write code.

But what of storage?

For me, storage is something that I think could take my company very very far if only it were seen as something of a help rather than a cost and hindrance.  This is where I feel learning the storage lexicon and technologies could be a huge benefit, even if short and just out of the gate.  What I mean by that is without other technologies riding on top of the storage to make your infrastructure as lean as possible, storage becomes little more than disk.

Does it really take an architect to create great storage?  I think it does, but the person who puts this together should also be very well versed in other technologies.  Perhaps not getting the most mileage out of a printer network card, but able to learn technologies like Virtualization and Tiering in a very quick fashion would be beneficial all the way around.

Because of all the things that storage impacts and the large amounts of data coming into the corporate data center (or SMB closet) the storage architect could be the saving grace for technology in some cases.  Making things that were once running away with all the dollars much more efficient and capable of lasting cheaply for a very long time is something to be proud of.  If only the hiring managers and decision makers were interested in disks… the pitch of the storage focussed might be a lot less difficult to get through.

An update to complete a long overdue post

In the interest of improving organizational efficiencies and employee productivity, my organization is installing some enterprise grade storage and a bit of VMware to begin consolidating servers.  Sometime in January I will likely begin working on this project which has been a long time coming, but this time around I think we got it right.  We are starting small at 3.2 Tb raw, but the possibilities and capabilities long term coupled with the growth in usable capacity we will see right away is going to be huge.  Now it comes down to delivery of the gear and installation.  I will post about that once it begins.