Storage is as Storage does

Sitting here running RDF create scripts for a data push this weekend and going over the days events in my head.

One of the things you get as a consultant is the ability to get a glimpse of the political machinations of many different companies and to get a first-hand view of what does and doesn’t work.

One thing I’ve seen is about a million different attempts at integrating storage into various systems departments.  It never works.  It always ends up with departmental pissing contests over who owns what, and usually results in a company or orginization buying more storage than they need to in order to pacify the different warring factions.

Storage belongs by itself. Pure and simple, the only way I’ve ever seen it work storage is a department in and of itself, with it’s own staff, it’s own budget, and a little autonomy and freedom to make decisions, and to act with the peace of mind that you’re not having to work around someone else’s changes.

The main reason for this is that server people don’t have the time to understand the dynamics of a truly heterogenious storage environment.  Network people understand firewalls and routing (something that *STILL* puzzles me to a certain extent), etc.

A good storage person knows the basics of as many operating systems as they can.

For instance – the current environment I’m working in has the following systems:

  • AIX
  • Mainframe
  • VMS
  • AS/400
  • Windows
  • Linux
  • VMWare

A good storage person knows the gotchas of each server, but may not know even how to log into the system.

For instance – for each of the systems listed above:

  • AIX – mount the pseudo device powerpath creates (hdiskpowerX).  AIX is sensitive to D_ID changes (Switch port changes) but if you’re using the LVM there are no real worries, just have to be careful.
  • Mainframe – Three words – Long Wave SFP’s
  • VMS – Is actually sensitive to the SYMDEV number.  if you’re doing a data migration you have to move the data to the same SYMDEV number.
  • AS400 – Boot from SAN using a Load Source Emulator – use the serial cable included with it to configure the boot device.  The boot device has to be on a separate port than the data devices.  Make sure Emulation is set correctly.
  • Windows – Dynamic disks cause hell with replication and TimeFinder – don’t use them.
  • Linux – make sure you use disk/partition labels so you can avoid issues if the LUN order changes.
  • VMWare – SPC2 bit needs to be set on FA’s for DRS/HA Clustered hosts.  Best bet is to do this using Symmask to avoid conflicts with other hosts sharing these ports.

A good storage department would include:

Tier-1 (Symmetrix) expert

Tier-2 (Clariion) expert

Backup person

NAS person

just my thoughts.


    • on September 26, 2008 at 5:19 pm
    • Reply

    I don’t know. I like the other way better. NAS, SAN(symmetrix, clarrion, IBM,), Switching, and virtualization all belong as tasks to a single individual. That way the one person who understands and works on 250+ terabytes of storage and 500 ports is always bright and fresh to face the coming day.

    I need a vacation.

  1. Not one individual, one department. I was constantly making the argument that Storage Services should be it’s own department. Hey, if networking rates it’s own department so should storage, I mean storage guys have 10 times the crap to deal with (and more if you throw backup/recovery into that mix)

    I was constantly being told that I could do all of the storage stuff in my spare time, since I technically belonged to Systems Engineering.

    Um…There is a reason they are defunct now – a student loan company that apparently has a serious issue with how many hours goes into a 40 hour (or 60 hour for that matter) work week obviously can’t be trusted with something as complex as computing interest.

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