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What Matters: People, Process, and technology

by Hu Yoshida on Jul 10, 2009

In a recent post by Martin Glassborow in Storagebod, he reviews the advantages of storage virtualization as provided by the USP V and IBM SVC, and ends with the following speculation:

“So as we move to more scalable, efficient and automated environments; I wonder if we will look back at things like USP-V, SVC etc as a cul-de-sac driven by today’s necessity! Or perhaps they truly are the future?”

Today I met with the new CIO of a very large customer who has a global agreement with us for storage. They have petabytes of USP and USP V storage frames. They are extremely happy with the reliability, availability, performance, and scalability of our USP products but they have not implemented storage virtualization. In the past when executives were asked why IT had not implemented storage virtualization, there were two answers. One, that storage virtualization is not ready for prime time and two that IT is not ready for storage virtualization.

In the meantime we have installed thousands of USP and USP V systems which are virtualizing petabytes of external storage in production environments, delivering millions of dollars in savings to other IT customers. Storage virtualization has been ready for prime time for over 5 years in our case. What does it take for this IT shop to be ready for storage virtualization?

In the case of this company, the business units drove IT, and they dictated storage investments. The decisions about storage were made on a local basis, and not on an enterprise basis. The problem was not that IT was not ready for storage virtualization; the problem was that the business was not ready. In other words, virtualization, the concept of sharing resources to reduce costs and improve overall performance, was not in the interest of the business units. They had budget for a project and they spent it on up front acquisition costs. It did not matter to them that the on going operational costs would be borne by IT and the rest of the enterprise.

This new CIO clearly understood the problem. In order to reduce costs and return more value to the business, he needed to align the business and IT around enterprise goals. Have the business unit define the services that they need and allow IT to provision it out of their long term technology roadmap.

Yes, the benefits of storage virtualization and dynamic provisioning are very clear. However, this conversation reminds us that technology by itself is not enough. People and process also need to be aligned to realize the benefits in a way that it matters. While we can help this CIO by bolstering his arguments with data around storage economics, ultimately he must persuade the business units to align around common enterprise goals. Then, some day they will look back and say, storage virtualization was indeed the future.

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Comments (2 )

Flexible Thinking – Gestalt IT on 12 Jul 2009 at 6:57 pm

[...] think that there is some interesting discussion to be had from Hu’s latest blog in response to my own comments and thoughts about whether storage virtualisation as demonstrated by [...]

[...] where the half life of a CIO is only two years, Alex has had a long career. As I noted in my previous blog post, progress does not depend on winning technology alone. It also requires people and process. People [...]

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