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How to launch your storage project

IT leaders at a recent Computing event have given their tips on how to kick off new enterprise storage projects.

Speaking at an IT Leaders Forum in March this year, ‘Building an insight driven digital business’, Alun Jones, data scientist at Konecranes, advised firms to “start with what they’ve already got”.

“Start with where youare now,” said Jones. “Do an evaluation and ask if you can build on what you have, or move sideways and start again.

“Storage has a longish lifecycle,” he continued. “A lot of IT people don’t like making decisions beacuse they know that in three months time there’ll be something better [available in the marketplace]. You have to jump, but you also have to keep your options open.

“Build it up in layers from what you have, but try to stay [vendor] agnostic. Vendors will say their way is the way, but take a step back and ask if it’s the only way. Especially large US organisations will try to lock you in. It’s very hard to negotiate with them because they have their marketing strategy for this quarter, but in fact you want something like five POCs [proofs of concept] with other firms,” Jones argued.

Matt Fordham, software defined storage leader for IBM UK Ireland, agreed.

“Find a flexible vendor to work with,” advised Fordham. “I see a lot of clients with very structured environments, so we try to be agnostic. I advise them consider certain types of software, but in small amounts, so they can grow with it. Go back a few years and we’re all out there saying ‘this is our latest box, it’ll take all your pain away’. That [strategy] eroded away years ago as we saw how powerful software can be in this mix. When you get those layers right, then policies will help you manage the data,” he added.

Kevin Findlay, digital IT director, Complete Cover Group gave a different side of the story, explaining the restrictions he has on the sorts of strategies he’s able to employ.

“To begin our storage projects, we need to get the CEO to agree to a spend of £60,000.”

Earlier in the discussion, Findlay complained that storage is still waiting for its “Apple moment”.

He added that his business runs two data centres, with NAS (Network Attached Storage) boxes on both.

“We’ve also got a SAN [Storage Area Network]. When we go to our supplier and say we’ve got a lot of stuff stored on NAS boxes, we then have an expensive discussion.

“On the analytics side, we want to get all the storage and databases in one place so we can run analytics across them. If you don’t have them all in one place, it just doesn’t work.

“But we do have serious controls on cost, and we have to basically do a sales pitch to get this through the business,” he explained.

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