The Tips and Tricks Guide to Creating Business Continuity through Enterprise Storage Solutions

by Chad Marshall


Years of market competition and decreasing storage costs have resulted in many disparate and difficult to manage storage environments. Add to these environments the demands of international regulatory compliance, the business need for information management and the ever-present security concerns of maintaining a production storage environment and management can become quickly overwhelmed. It’s at this point that disaster most often strikes.

Written in an easy to understand Q & A format, The Tips and Tricks Guide to Creating Business Continuity through Enterprise Storage Solutions leverages years of industry storage experience and IT service delivery management to deliver a consolidated guide focused on maintaining the security, availability, cost and information management of complex enterprise storage environments. Whether you're a storage practitioner looking to broaden an understanding of business continuity, security and compliance best practices, or a seasoned CIO examining ways to consolidate an ever increasing storage infrastructure, this guide has the answers you’ve been looking for.


Volume 1: Securing Availability and Business Continuity

Q: What is the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery planning?

A: Business continuity and disaster recovery are closely related concepts that often exist as a point of contention between information technology (IT) and line of business managers. Unlike disaster recovery, which focuses almost entirely on IT infrastructure and assets post-disaster, business continuity represents the processes and procedures an organization puts in place to ensure that essential functions can continue during and after a degradation or complete loss of critical people, processes, or technology.

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning both address the preservation of business and involve the preparation, testing, and maintenance of plans to protect vital business processes and assets. Business continuity plans, however, are created to prevent interruptions to normal business activity and are designed to protect business processes from disaster. Further, business continuity planning deals with aspects of business process not generally covered within a disaster recovery plan (such as logistics). Disaster recovery planning deals almost entirely with plans to reduce the severity of an impact once the disaster has occurred.

Volume 2: Maximizing Storage Resources and Solutions

Q: What are the best practices for storage resource management?

A: Storage resource management (SRM) is the management of physical and logical storage resources, storage devices, appliances, virtual devices, disk volumes, and file resources. To obtain efficient, reliable, and cost-effective SRM, there are several best practices that should be adhered to.

Best Practice 1: Define SRM as an Intelligent Set of Processes

SRM, as a whole, is often a vaguely defined exercise at best. Many organizations understand that they need to do a better job of SRM but are unsure where to begin. By breaking down SRM as a series of processes, you can begin to take control of the environment. The steps to get control of SRM can be broken down into four major process areas (see Figure 2.1), which are sometimes referred to as Intelligent Storage Management (ISM).

Figure 2.1: Intelligent storage management cycle.

Volume 3: Information Management

Q: What exactly is information management and how can it potentially impact my storage strategy?

A: Information management is the treatment of information acquired by one or many disparate sources in a way that optimizes access by all who can benefit from that information. This is often characterized by the phrase "Getting the right information to the right person at the right place at the right time." Although initially information management was not as much a technology concern as it was a management concern, storage technology today plays a pivotal role in information management as computer systems and data storage have emerged to be the dominant method of storing and delivering information. Within many enterprise environments, nearly every tidbit of information collected ends up within the storage infrastructure at one point, and it is this common ground that information management today attempts to exploit.

Volume 4: Cost Management

Q: What are the differences between an RFI and an RFP and how can each be used to maximize vendor relationships to benefit cost management?

A: The major difference between a Request for Information (RFI) and a Request for Proposal (RFP) is in the scope. RFIs are broad documents meant to get a feel for the capability of a business or its products and services to meet the needs of your organization. An RFP, however, is a request for a bid on a specific product or service offering to be provided by the vendor. Both have their specific use, play an important part in the procurement process, can positively impact cost management by increasing the awareness of the capabilities of various vendors—how far they can stretch to meet your needs, and drive competition.

Volume 5: Compliance

Q: How do compliance concerns influence storage, business continuity, and disaster recovery planning?

A: These days it seems that compliance has a direct impact on nearly everything we do and in a lot of cases with very good reason. Regulatory compliance concerns are, for the most part, designed to protect organizations and individuals from some rather dire consequences, including identity theft and, in the case of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), health insurance abuse through the unauthorized disclosure of personal information.

Volume 6: Security

Q: What is storage resource management and how can it enable tighter security controls in enterprise storage?

A: Storage resource management (SRM) is the management of physical and logical storage resources, including storage devices, appliances, virtual devices, disk volumes, and file resources. What this typically relates to in practice is management designed to ensure that the right storage solution, in terms of cost and performance, is properly aligned to the business need.

For example, if a storage resource is being requested to meet the needs of a production database accessed by thousands of users per day, it can be generally assumed that the storage resource is going to need to be capable of high-performance input and output (I/O). Conversely, if a storage resource is being requested for a document management archive that may only be accessed by a handful of users per month, a lower-performing, and thus less expensive, solution may be aligned. Identifying what criteria a given application system requires equates to a "right sizing" of the environment. While back-end routines for SRM are often focused on identifying misaligned storage resources, the front end, in a consultative approach, should be focused on asking the right questions. The efficiency of the SRM process will usually have a direct financial impact as business needs are understood the cost over-runs associated with overbuying can be avoided.

SRM can be further defined in its added capabilities of providing a consolidated view of storage resources and offering the capability to monitor and measure storage status across the enterprise. Deploying active management alternatives to prevent interruption of service is just one benefit of SRM. Through effective management routines, SRM can also be used as a tool to ensure that adequate plans are in place to forecast future growth.

Volume 7: Aligning Storage to Serve Business

Q: How can I effectively align storage with the needs of my organization?

A: They key to a practical, visible, and maintainable alignment of storage resources to meet the needs of any organization is to ensure that the strategy and planning for the storage environment doesn't occur inside a vacuum. A common failure not just in storage architecture strategy and planning but indeed information technology (IT) strategy and planning as a whole lies in a broad inability, or unwillingness, to coherently identify, analyze, and comprehend how business motivators influence infrastructure strategy. The solution lies in communication, close partnerships, and a desire to put business needs ahead of technology motivators. Although easier said than done, there are several steps you can take to further your chances of success.