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January 07, 2009




I would add one more role to your list: The Storage Architects As A Proto-Informationist

It seems that storage architects are being asked to come up with highly justified and detailed answers to the question "Where can I put my data?" from their users.

In order to come up with that answer, storage architects can no longer say that they will just put their data on an array in the data center. They need to know retention periods, DR requirements, performance attributes, charge-back vehicles, data owners, access requirements, physical location (i.e., which data center), growth rates, backup/archive model, assessed business value, etc. In most cases, deriving this answer requires correlating many different inputs from various parts of IT and the business. Once this data (or should it be called metadata) has been fully processed, the storage architect now possesses some very useful information… And they may have indirectly become one of the most informed wardens of the information in question.

This only helps to further blur the lines separating who manages storage, who manages data, who manages information.

Chuck Hollis

Yes, Luther, you're right, it's bleeding obvious ...

An informed storage manager is poised to ask the great questions such as "what kind of data is it?" and "where did it come from?" and "how is it used?" and so much more ...

What a great world it would be if more storage admins saw themselves in this way!

Thanks for the comment!

Dave Vellante

Love the vision Chuck, really. How you turn GRC into a business capability is still unclear to me but I continue to be impressed with EMC's unwavering commitment to an information-centric ethos. It sets you apart.

Here's a challenge I hear from Wikibon users. Risk and value are counterpoised. Risk mitigation has been pursued by shoving everything into a centralized archive using technology designed for document workflow. Works well as a business value/productivity enabler but risk is inherently distributed; and this knee jerk reaction to regulation, changes to the FRCP and litigation isn't cutting it. As a result, the third leg of your stool, cost is out of line.

I think it comes back to a vision EMC put forth several years ago and shied away from lately (for good reason imo-- but maybe it's time to revisit) and that's ILM.

Users I speak with are pushing for a new breed of technology that enables them to defensibly segment and manage their information along with tools that allow the active lifecycle management of information wherever it resides.

I can point to many parts of your strategy that support this goal but the 'wherever it resides' piece is unclear. Is that because: a) it's too difficult; b) it's fundamentally incorrect or c) it's there and I'm just missing it? Thanks. -Dave from Wikibon.org

Chuck Hollis

Hi Dave --

As far as your first point, we think there are some interesting pathways to turn GRC into a business capability, but it's definitely early days.

As far as your comments regarding the interesting duality between risk and value, I couldn't agree more. One part of the business wants to mitigate risk. Another part wants value from that same information.

The challenge (opportunity?) is that we believe the same technology capabilities can do both -- once information is discovered, indexed, managed, etc. -- the heavy lifting is done, and both can be achieved (including cost optimization, while we're at it).

Connecting those dots in large enterprises will be difficult, though achievable in the longer term. I remember the whole learning curve around globalization.

It started with "let's save money on labor" and quickly morphed into "wow, these are really talented people".

ILM had its strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, though, its applicability was limited simply because it was mostly an IT-centric discussion around addressing IT's concerns.

I believe that a business-centric discussion was missing at the time-- there was no business mandate crying "we need to get a handle on our information" to drive the evolution of ILM thinking.

Hence my (and EMC's) interest in the recent trends towards information governance, GRC, information assurance, et. al.

The "wherever it resides" piece is essential, and is emerging in several seemingly unconnected threads, not all of which are entirely public at this juncture :-)

Of course, then there's our historical challenge of actually telling the story, even if we have all the pieces ...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always!

-- Chuck

Stephen Ashley

A great post Chuck as always. I think you/we have to be careful about declaring everyone in your categories to be a potential proto-informationist. There will always be the individuals who will remain the technologist, which is good because we need them, but a few will get it and begin to understand the business impact of the information and systems they manage. I guess that brings up the question can you become an informationist without a technology background or do they have to evolve from a given technology swamp?

As far as ILM goes I think it is still a valid concept and part of the total picture. It links into both value and GRC. The importance, ownership and use of information will vary throughout its life meaning potential shifts in the relative importance of the legs of the stool

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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