Whose making the storage decisions now? Five years ago it was pretty straight forward. The person buying storage was the Storage Architect, influenced by the Storage Admin with a budget approved by the direct line bosses, depending on how much was being spent. For smaller companies it was the IT Director.
Now, new options and drivers are changing the storage buying landscape. For the most part the Storage Architects and Admins still deal with the vendors and decide on requirements. However, new technologies have ushered in some new players.
The almost new kid on the block is the DBA, led initially by Oracle’s Exadata initiative that stressed calling on the DBA to drive the super-fast database applications. This sales motion was followed by the Flash start-ups who did not have a vested interest in the Storage Architect, so calling on another part of the company was fair game. Frankly, these start-ups are taking a page from the EMC play-book when they instructed sale people to call on Line of Business managers to drive their early introductions of Symmetrix back in the early 90’s. The other quasi-new storage decision maker is the Server Virtualization manager who is making decisions to improve performance for VDI, a great use case for Flash and trying to solve the IO mixer problem for the servers.
On almost every end user call I ask, “are you deploying any Hadoop or big-data clusters?” The answer is, “I think they are doing something in (fill in the blank) department, but it is not part of our group.” Need I say more?
I wrote a while ago about how IT-related decisions were moving up the organizational ladder. For most of the converged purchases there are cross functional teams formed with the involvement including the Storage Architect. However, if the decision is based on re- architecting the IT organization, the driver will be the CIO.
Creation of a private cloud has cross functional similarities with Converged Systems. The initial design of a private cloud is driven by the CTO or a Senior IT architect, again with team members from all the technology groups. Once the private cloud is deployed we expect an organization to add new positions to support end user interface commitments. People who used to be server or storage admins will become cross-functional admins who manage fully virtualized environments using an orchestration layer. There will still be experts, but not the siloed management style we have seen the past where Storage did their work and Server did theirs.
Storage experts can either feel threatened by this trend and hope this is merely a management phase that will pass, or can pro-actively reach out to the new decision makers / influencers. By being a resource, they can guide decisions that make sense for the whole environment, versus operating on the basis of a single isolated case. This may still mean the purchase of standalone machine, but a decision made within the context of management support, data security, protection and preservation.