Start by conducting an internal audit of your human capital, processes, legacy
systems, users and existing storage assets. Once you have a handle on what exactly
needs to be addressed, then you can identify the right solution. It may make sense
to create a matrix that illustrates how each storage solution addresses your business
processes, technology systems (legacy and new), end users, training, and cost.
The future of your information is all-important. Consider how potential solutions
present information to your users. Additionally, ensure that they interoperate
transparently with your mainframes. Note: Implementing a new storage solution
presents the perfect opportunity to migrate corporate information from mainframes
into contemporary production environments.
Depending on your IT budget, you may want to consider off-the-shelf solutions
or utilize popular scripting languages such as XML to actually pull the information
out of the mainframes. Once the corporate information is located on a more interoperable
platform and behind a corporate firewall, you will want to lock it down using
additional security protocols such as SSL encryption.
Remember that the ideal storage solution must be centralized and able to manage
systems both locally and globally. This will allow your company to finally get
away from antiquated backup solutions and deal globally with mission-critical
resources that were previously closed off.
The Human Element
Determining how much storage each person is using and forecasting how a new
storage solution will affect their usage is a formidable task. Succeeding at this
task depends on how well IT departments understand the human element of their
business systems. Keep in mind that as technology changes, people must change
with it. An added concern is re-training your core staff, and assessing which
of its ranks are best equipped to make the implementation a success. In many cases
it may be necessary to re-deploy personnel.
The Bottom Line
Clearly, introducing a new storage solution is essential to achieving true
business continuance. This process requires a set of strong implementation strategies
and people-oriented policies and practices. Creating a holistic strategy that
incorporates legacy systems while mitigating changes in human behavior, applications,
data, files and business rules is the key to success.
Walk Before You Run with a Pilot System
Designing, purchasing and implementing an enterprise-wide storage system is
a huge and expensive task that involves a wide range of corporate participation.
Before it's rolled out to the masses, some technology departments have found that
the best way to guarantee success is by putting technology to the test, under
real work conditions, through pilot programs. Think about all of your options
as you deploy the pilot program and consider a modular approach, along with contingency
plans, when launching it. This ensures the success of your program as it progresses
and gives you the flexibility to exchange technology and methods that do not work
for those that do.
Some of the key steps in implementing a pilot system include:
- Pick a pilot deployment team and do so wisely. For example, assign someone
to catalog the successes and failures of your pilot program, have a systems administrator
devoted to the task implementation, and ensure that a department leader can communicate
the causation of the pilot program.
- Start small, but think big. Pick a department with a manageable number of
people where user behavior can be monitored and analyzed.
- Choose computer-savvy users. Power-users, if you will, who are comfortable
with technology-particularly new technology- to take the first crack at a pilot
- Identify the department's legacy and updated technology systems which you
plan to address through your pilot program. Prepare a list of potential "worst
case scenarios" for each system and devise a contingency plan for each and
every one of them.
- Get involved with each user in the department. For example, survey them to
get a sense of how they use the technologies, their level of understanding on
how the technologies should work and educate them on the purpose of the pilot
program. Giving users the bigger picture is a great way to engage them and encourage
them to be proactive about ongoing program feedback.
- Try to avoid mission-critical processes. A pilot system should not handle
mission-critical data or systems in production environments.
- Learn from your mistakes. Take the time to thoroughly analyze the strengths
and weakness of the pilot before expanding its use.
Reprinted with the author's permission.
About the Author:
Gil Rapaport is Vice President, Marketing, for XOsoft.
In this role, he is actively involved in developing new marketing concepts and
realizing business development opportunities for XOsoft.
Read this newsletter at: http://www.itmanagementnews.com/2003/0827.html