CIOs Need Smart Storage, Not More Storage

by drjim on September 21, 2009

Where To Put Everything Is A CIO Sort Of Problem <p> (c) -2007) </p>

Where To Put Everything Is A CIO Sort Of Problem (c) -2007)

With a little luck we can all agree that storage is a boring topic to talk about – I mean when you store something, it’s just sitting there not doing anything. CIOs prefer to talk about data in motion – reporting new sales or opening new markets. However, it turns out that storing data is the foundation that the company is built on and CIOs need to do this the right way…

Times They Are A Changing

The days of blindly adding more cheap storage are over – storage has long term costs. CIOs need to revist this issue and create a solution that works for both today and tomorrow.

Steve Delahunty, who works for Booz Allen Hamilton, has been looking into the storage challenges that today’s CIOs are facing and he agrees that we’ve got some challenges facing us.

The old approach to storage was to simply add more cheap storage as needed. This doesn’t work any more for a number of reasons. Just adding more cheap storage is a big waste of money, power, and floor space in data centers.

The new approach to adding more storage that CIOs need to quickly adopt is to realize that when it comes to adding more storage they need to consider the full storage environment: data security, disaster recovery, environmental concerns, etc.

Why The Old Way Of Adding Storage Doesn’t Work Anymore

In the brave new world in which we live, most companies are experiencing double digit storage growth. Sure, we are collecting more information about our customers, managing our supply chains from start to finish, and creating new web portal with which to interact with our customers nearly every day.

However, our dirty little secret is that often the data that we are storing is no longer needed. This may represent a huge liability if our company is ever sued – can you image the cost and effort that it would take to search through all of that (useless) stored data?

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that the the old way of just adding more cheap storage was the wrong way to run an IT shop, then consider this: Delahunty’s research shows that the amount of power that data centers use has doubled in the past 5 years. On top of this, the national average for the cost of electricity has shot up by 44% since 2004.

The Right Way To Store Things

So what’s a CIO to do? First, you’ve got to change the way that you’re doing business when it comes to adding storage. Instead of just meeting requests for more storage, CIOs need to start to make sure that they understand the business requests behind storage needs.

What this means is that the IT department needs to get more involved in understanding just what they are being asked to store. As the requests come in, they need to take the time to classify the value to the business of the data that is being proposed to be stored. When data doesn’t met the “I must always have access to it” criteria, then that data either needs to stored on inexpensive off-line storage or simply discarded.

You may have already realized this – this type of data analysis cannot be automated, it’s a people job. IT staff need to be involved in the data classification process in order to ensure that good decisions are made.

Final Thoughts

Once upon a time, adding additional storage was something that CIOs didn’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about. Storage was cheap and getting cheaper every day and so it seemed like you could keep growing your storage farms forever.

Reality has caught up with us and environmental costs coupled with possible legal issues have turned the world of storage upside down. Now CIOs need a new strategy to deal with their company’s growing storage needs.

Classifying the data that you are going to be storing is the correct first step. Weeding out what doesn’t need to be stored and then using the classification system to move non-critical data to low cost storage solutions can solve multiple problems all at once.

CIOs who can add more storage the right way will have found a way to apply IT to enable the rest of the company to grow quicker, move faster, and do more.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’ve got a quick question for you: what is the next step in your career? What do you want to get promoted to? In fact, as long as we are talking about that, what comes after THAT promotion? If you want to become a CIO, then career ladder generally goes: IT worker, manager, director, executive director, CIO. Got a plan on how you are going to get to that next step?

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