17 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2013 6:08 PM by seanc

    Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?


      Storage is a pretty broad set of technologies; it comes in all shapes and sizes (yes I am counting the fish shaped flash drive on my desk) and is changing every day.  For someone coming into IT, or maybe just getting into the storage portion of the organization the sheer amount of new knowledge can be a big undertaking.


      I found myself in a similar situation when my organization moved into the shared storage space and when I made my first trip to Microsoft.  The number of new acronyms and technical definitions were enormous.  I am happy to say that the blogging opportunities and conference opportunities I have had since then have helped reinforce this learning.


      My question this week is not really about a storage technology, but more focused on where we as technologists are on the learning journey.  With all of the terminology and the technology in the storage space, what was the hardest concept for you to grasp?  Similarly, what was the easiest?


      The easiest for me, was the overall concept of why running a datacenter on shared storage was smart, both from a technology viewpoint and from a money saving viewpoint.  The acronyms all over storage from iSCSI to the LUN were among the hardest, that and the virtual networking that comes along with virtualizing a datacenter.


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        • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

          The concepts and theory around shared storage especially in virtual environments should be simple to grasp for all us. All the disparate technologies however has been a challenge especially in the vendors space. As each vendor uses different methods within their storage devices. EMC vs netapp for example.  I found the learning actually begins  once a decision has been made to go with a specific vendor.

          • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?
            Sohail Bhamani

            For me, not having access to the big iron in the storage world was the biggest limiter to my learning.  I started to work with Vmware products and that opened a world of possibilities in terms of access to appliances and virtual storage products.  As a function of my job, I must retain expert level knowledge of all solarwinds products and the accompanying infrastructure to power the platform.  Storage Maanager was once that took me a while to learn, but having the ability to test out the variety of storage methodologies in a virtualized environment really opened it all up for me.


            I think the same type of thing happens for network engineers.  I have been a network engineer the majority of my career and access to the big chassis and latest equipment is what keeps many from being able to obtain the positions that manage those devices.


            Sohail Bhamani

            Loop1 Systems


            • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

              Most of it!!


              Im freshly out of College, I did a Computer Engineering Major, but in my university there is a very strong set of mind of what that Major has to offer. We basically go all programming, IT security, platform use. We just have 1 basic course of Networking(I aint joking).

              There is 1 other Major where you can go deep in Networking, but I didn't took it.  Truth be told, I never thought I'd end up in Networking.


              So now as my first real job, Im in charge of Solarwinds and all the stuff I have to learn in very short time is just...overwhelming sometimes. But step by step I've come around and curiosity has me asking our Storage guy all sorts of questions. Never thought Virtualization could be so powerful and open so many possibilities. SANs and VSANs has really got me interested, as well as seeing in production RAID sets.


              I know I sound all cheerfull and dreamy, but is just amazing seeing how different college is from actual work. I am very optimistic with this job, and hopefully be around a long time.



              • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                Echoing some of the sentiments already heard, I'm playing catch-up with access to larger storage systems. Transport/carrier networking was the formative piece of my career for the first ten years, followed by gigs at nonprofit and educational shops where resources were always the hardest thing to get. Even working at an MSP meant most of my customers were not large-scale, so virtualization was still limited to local storage, etc.

                Nowadays I'm working at a shop with a couple of Vmware clusters and clustered arrays supporting them. An interesting thing I've found is that the day-to-day implementation of basic shared storage is not difficult - with the caveat that if you don't have your tiering, switching, and other infrastructure squared away, you're going to face rough seas until you find the right direction. The vendor relationships we have allow me to utilize the savvy and expertise of folks who do storage all day every day, and their chops are impressive.

                Having said that, my transport chops and experience have really helped our organization to leverage Solarwinds successfully - so I guess everybody wins!

                • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                  I worked with various SANs in my previous job, I found them to be quite useful and fairly user friendly. I wasn't using them in a really large corporation which I am sure had an effect on my experience, but it was still good overall. My interaction with said SANs were based around setting up VMware environments, it provide some challenge, but like I said, I enjoyed it!

                  • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                    I think I am in the same boat as you derekschauland in that the most difficult part for me has been learning all of the different terms as well as the networking associated with storage.  Our company first started in the Cloud business about 2 years ago now and we got our first NetApp and I think it has probably been one of the most difficult technologies for me to understand.  Now after two years we are using a lot of NetApps and I still find myself sometimes struggling with storage especially when it comes to troubleshooting performance issues.

                    • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                      I'm a networking person and I'm just now starting down the road of learning storage. What I struggle with the most so far is all of the product offerings from the major storage vendors. Trying to figure out what type of 'thing' or what size of 'thing' can be confusing within one vendor's product portfolio, let alone across vendors. On a lighter side, I've found humor in the some of the hard-nosed fidelity that some folks have to their particular vendor of choice. I guess we all have our preferences. But I've witnessed some heated debates that are borderline religious wars that have brought tears to my eyes in laughter as I watch folks duel about who is best and why.


                      Nice thread,


                      • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                        I have allowed myself to be comfortable in the fact that we have a team for that and it just works...except for when it doesn't.  I am on the tail end of the learning curve and need to step out of my comfort zone and learn the technology especially as we add deeper and more detailed monitoring into these systems.


                        But I love to learn.  Most companies I have worked for have had the attitude of here's a manual, we bought you a tool, make it work.

                        • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                          A lot of times when I think about the different tech that I work with I ask myself "Could I set this up from scratch?".  When it comes to our SANs, the answer is probably, but not that easily.  Generally they were installed by a vendor with my input to guide the overall configurations.  The nitty-gritty details were taken care of by someone else.  This leaves me on the back end trying to learn what I can about a system that's already up and running.


                          I've learned a lot about storage tech and concepts, but one area that I've spent some time learning recently is performance numbers.  IOPS, queue depth, read I/O, write I/O....  There's a lot of numbers that can point to the overall health/performance of a system, but it's hard to know which stats to zero in on and then whether they are good, bad or just right.

                          • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                            Terminology is the hardest for sure.  Seems like each vendor wants to have its own acronym for its products and services and storage it self is the easy part.   once you get past the vendors provisionig processes, its all easy.

                            • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                              I think the terminology can be difficult.  But I think the real challenge is in understanding performance tuning and understanding the more difficult less well documented cross vendor issues like FC switching, FCoE, and iSCSI.

                              • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                                I am completely lost...it is a definite gap in my skill set.  I still have to look up simple RAID definitions when asked for configurations specs.

                                • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                                  When at GE I was told ur now on the storage team and working with most of EMC's products... at the time EMC 10k FC switches and Symmetrix on down...  In my current area of operation using multiple 10G E interfaces we've done away with SAN, HBA's, and WW Names altogether mostly and just use massive NetApp NAS storage presented to VCloud director.

                                  • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                                    I have always been a hands on, physical kind of guy...  virtual anything was a mystery...  it seemed like every time I logged into Google, my storage space increased and I didn't have to pay for it...  Still have a lot of reading to do just to keep up with the terms...

                                    • Re: Where do you find yourself on the journey of learning Storage?

                                      Wow, I'm late to the party. (Still trying to figure out the whole thwack thing.)

                                      I took a course in college a couple years ago that used a really good book. The course itself was pretty 'meh' but the book was actually really good. It's on Safari Books. Although it maybe a few years old now it gave me a pretty good foundation on understanding everything.


                                      • Information Storage and Management: Storing, Managing, and Protecting Digital Information

                                      • By: G. Somasundaram; Alok Shrivastava
                                      • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
                                      • Pub. Date: April 06, 2009
                                      • Print ISBN: 978-0-470-29421-5
                                      • Web ISBN: 0-470294-21-3