Storage projects struggle to get funding, priority

Getting management buy-in on strorgae projects can be difficult, but presenting a case based on the financial benefits of the project can help. Lucas Merian reports

IT managers want the benefits of deploying new storage technologies but say a lack of time and management support are stifling those aspirations.

"My problem is we're too busy," says Edwin Alsberg, director of IT operations at Depository Trust & Clearing in New York. "Every year, we put storage resource management on the budget, and every year, it just falls off," he says.

John Strano, manager of capacity and performance management at Pfizer in New York, says IT managers generally don't have time to deploy sophisticated data management tools, "let alone get the value out of them."

Strano says he has developed a plan for a tiered storage infrastructure with six levels, ranging from high-end primary to secondary storage to network-attached storage, but has so far been too busy to deploy more than three levels.

An impromptu electronic survey of approximately 500 users at the conference by sponsor TechTarget found that 66% don't have time to put together a basic cost model or a data value model for an ILM (information life-cycle management) project. Other figures from the survey include that 28% can't build out a tiered storage cost model and only 8% have completed work on an ILM strategy.

A different survey done at the conference found that 69% of respondents receive some executive support but no ongoing support for projects, 22% receive no management support and 9% get all the management support they need.

Richard Scannell, vice president of corporate development at consulting firm GlassHouse Technologies, suggested that IT managers may have more success in gaining management backing for storage projects when proposals detail probable effects on the business. What's most important, he said, is creating a way to deploy storage that serves a direct business need, such as speeding the completion of trades at a share brokerage.

Craig Taylor, associate director of open systems at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, says he gained management support as his unit built out a five-tier storage infrastructure that has eliminated regular daily backups to tape and greatly reduced power consumption in his datacentre.

Taylor advises IT managers to provide executives with simple lines of reasoning for supporting projects. "Look at it from the application level — email, regulatory reports, Word documents," he says.

The archival tier of the Exchange's storage infrastructure is made up of a relatively inexpensive ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) array from Copan Systems that stores 228TB in a 0.9 sq m area in his datacentre, freeing up valuable space and using far less electricity than a traditional midtier disk array or a tape silo.

The new array has increased backup and restore rates by 228% compared with the exchange's old tape silo, Taylor says.

GlassHouse's Scannell also says IT managers can gain management support for storage projects by calculating a run rate of the financial cost of an inefficient storage infrastructure over a period of years. Such efforts can demonstrate to upper-level management that storage operating costs —such keeping old data on primary storage — escalate over time.

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