Many of my blog posts and live talks focus on the changing nature of storage. Traditional storage architectures are giving way to dispersed arrays and even software-defined storage. And traditional storage arrays are giving way to things that don't really look like storage arrays at all. But what does this mean for the storage administrator? Is this job going the way of the dodo?
Storage isn't easy. Sure, it seems like it's just a matter of keeping the disks spinning while applications do the real work, but storage is much more than that. It's all about performance, availability, and advanced data movement features. And the job of the storage administrator is much more than just keeping the lights on until the next array needs to be installed! In fact, it is mastery of the application integration points, from VAAI to TimeFinder, that truly define what it means to be a storage admin.
As storage arrays devolve, evolve, and merge with servers, many of the traditional management tasks do disappear. But so much more is left to do! The demise of the traditional storage array isn't the end of a career in storage; it's a moment of liberation!
Storage administrators have always wanted to move their focus from hardware operations to higher-level data management tasks. Now is their big chance. VSAN may have no SAN at all, but the data is still there. Cloud storage moves data off-premises but the data is just as important. In many ways, these new technologies make it even more important for a company to have someone looking after their data.
Now is the time for that storage administrator to stake out a seat at the application planning meetings and begin talking about issues of data mobility, locality, and availability. These are the traditional topics of the storage industry, but they were too-often submerged in the daily grind of storage performance and basic functionality. Integrated storage systems finally promise to eliminate the tedium of mapping and connecting storage systems, and anyone who's fought with iSCSI or Fibre Channel welcomes that burden being lifted!
The career of a storage administrator is not going away. In fact, it's becoming much more important in this software-defined world. Rise up and become data managers!