Hands-On: Storage-Network-Management Best Practices

The storage network wasn't designed with small businesses in mind. Here's a list of things to watch out for when deploying and managing your business' storage network.
Know thy network

How much of your storage capacity is being sapped by the intern's MP3 collection or your marketing manager's vacation photos? More than you know. How about all those old Word Perfect files? Chances are your company hasn't used that application in years.

Do a regular audit of your network with an inexpensive storage resource management solution to give you a quick snapshot of your environment. Cleaning off the network regularly can prevent having to purchase additional capacity before it is necessary. Archive those old files to a CD to make room for more business critical data.

When choosing an SRM solution, be careful not to get caught up with functionality geared toward the enterprise market. These may have more bells and whistles but can are pricey. You are much better off deploying a smaller, less expensive solution designed for SMBs. Don't spend any more than a couple hundred dollars for an SRM solution and keep in mind that these tools are designed to save you money in the long run. SMB-specific SRM tools from IBM, Veritas and Tek-Tools are easy-to-deploy and easy to manage.

Watch your back

Having a solid backup, compliance and disaster recovery strategy won't necessarily get you promoted, but a bad one can get you fired. In today's business environment the penalty for not complying with federal regulations include heavy fines and even jail time.

Still, the cost of simply "saving everything" can be quite costly. According to Allen, content management is the most difficult part of storage. He says that you need to know what files to save, for how long, and on what media. For small businesses who want to make sure they are covered in the most efficient manner, he recommends they backup and archive all financial records and emails at a minimum. He recommends a solution that allows for automated backup, restoring, and archiving, and scales easily as the business's data needs grow.

Mirosavich says that change management is also important to compliance. She recommends a solution that keeps track of changes to configuration policies, who changed what and who is authorized to make changes.