15 Replies Latest reply on May 9, 2013 4:26 PM by richardteachout

    Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?


      With the seemingly explosive growth in all varieties of network storage over the past few years, many organizations that may not have considered using SANs or NAS boxes are seeing pricing for this type of storage adjust because there are more players.  This does not mean that storage is cheap, but that there is more competition in the space and more opportunity for new entrants to find a better bang for their limited buck.


      If storage goes more toward the enterprise for small business (or bigger enterprise for big business) does the organization suffer if they do not implement a standard operating procedure for the “new black box in the data center”? Sure the concepts are similar regardless of the storage chosen, a LUN is still a LUN, but would a company be better off creating supported documentation to aid in the operation of and maintenance of the storage?


      Because storage, especially enterprise storage, can be a bit of an enigma, one that doesn’t need a ton of babysitting, but at the same time runs a majority of the data center, I would think that training for the IT staff or the storage folks on that staff to help them get involved in building an SOP for storage would be a huge step forward.  It would also help any newcomers learn about the storage technology being used.  Maybe they do not support it directly, but having an understanding of what a LUN is and which File Systems are mission critical might be a good beginning.


      What do you think?  Would a set of standard operating procedures for the storage in an organization be something that would benefit a company?  Does your organization, or even your team have this in place today?


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        • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

          I agree wholeheartedly.  A SOP for storage would be a HUGE benefit here where I work.  Typically, with budgets the way they are, there is one person who receives 'proper' training on the storage and does the actual day-to-day work involving storage.  Unfortunately, that knowledge is rarely transferred and if that person is on vacation, sick or (worst case) leaves the company suddenly, the people that are left behind to do the work have little to no experience working with the storage and things take WAY longer to get done.  In some cases, common tasks for the 'regular' storage person turn into support calls to the storage vendor to fix problems that occurred because there was no SOP and the people trying to fill in did something that they shouldn't have.

          • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

            I work for a large organization and I have a team that is dedicated for storage and data retention.  Every member of this team has knowledge on the systems we have in house.  Some more remedial tasks are documented and done by the other various infrastructure teams within our organization.

            • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?
              Sohail Bhamani

              Being a traveling consultant, I have seen many environments over the last 2 years.  I ave noticed that larger companies with more invested in storage infrastructure tend to have dedicated storage teams.  Smaller companies tend to not have much in the way or formalized processes around storage.  One of the things that many small companies could possible benefit from would be knowing what to do to go from a small undocumented environment to one more like large companies.  Having the docs is always the way to go in my opinion.


              Sohail Bhamani

              Loop1 Systems


              • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                I can see the value in having an SSOP (Storage SOP?), but as with a lot of other types of documentation, it's only as good as it is current.  Who's going to develop the initial documentation?  Who's going to be in charge of updating the documentation?

                • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                  While our company is not large, our storage is handled exactly the same way mdriskell has said his company does.  We have two people that act as the "storage experts" while the rest of us have the basic knowledge to troubleshoot and do basic provisioning tasks.  We generally treat any technology we use with this same model; one expert, one backup for the expert and everybody else has general/basic understanding.  This is our minimum requirement, sometimes we have more than one expert and more than one backup.

                  • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                    I work for a large organization and we have a dedicated team responsible for all the storage around the country. They do have a set of SOP's which I believe they keep up to date as things change. They're also responsible for getting all the backups setup for this storage but another team will run the backup jobs etc.

                    • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                      We have two teams, a back up team and a storage team.  Ironically, their SOP is written by a third team whose job is to write SOP's

                      • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                        To be honest, I think that an SOP should be written for any technology that is used in an organization. Properly written SOPs can reduce the time it takes to recover from problems, order replacement parts, reduce overall downtime, decrease the time it takes to contact "the right person", and keep things running smoothly. On top of that, I think it's just good business sense to have all your ducks in a row, even if you never have to use it.

                        • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                          I think its a given, if you don't have a SOP for storage you will fall in to the same issues eventually that would would for any capacity drives on any part of your network.

                          • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?
                            Richard Nicholson

                            Like jeremymayfield stated above if you don't have an SOP for storage not only will you have capacity issues, but then you run into that one person who knows the storage the most and controls the dreaded "Storage Spreadsheet" that is still common place in sooo many environments.


                            What happens if that person gets mad, or leaves the company and had his own system for recording storage configurations that no one else understands..


                            Interesting topic.. But something that should almost always be discussed internally and have an SOP around it.

                            • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                              I work for a company that recently moved to SAN from directly attached storage and NAS storage and I can tell you that if we had taken the time to better develop a SOP for our storage and our needs it would have allowed us to better size our initial implementation and prevent us from a budgetary crunch when we realized we underestimated our actual needs.

                              • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                                We just installed a Netapp for storage and we are waiting on our second one to come in.

                                No SOP's are in place yet, but SOP's are huge in any respect. In regard to networking process, I create SOP's for just about everything we do...

                                • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                                  This is BIG deal... for one with virtualization some of the responsibilities that storage engineers were required for before have evaporated since you can present the whole storage as one big whole and let the VCloud Director divy it all up.


                                  I have a feeling some storage and network engineers jobs are in jeopardy soon.

                                  • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                                    In our organziation tis all about the requirements vs what someone is willing to pay and that will define your SOP. The SOP for storage should follow in my opinion the traditional method of test in dev, validate in stage, then push to prod in terms of maintaning whatever storage(local, nas, san, or combination thereof) it is.

                                    • Re: Storage Management - Can I get an SOP for that?

                                      It's more important to make a SOP for solving needs, than for simplifying management, IMHO.  Obviously the SOP should include some base standards, and that is VERY important, but it also shouldn't restrict to the point that it prevents solving the needs of the organization, or in my case, our customers.

                                      That is the true issue I've run into with SOP's - they are often made and created by teams that don't understand the lowest level of the chain, and the real technical needs.   ie: very important, and often done wrong.


                                      But I hope others don't stumble into the same issues I do. ;-)