today I want to discuss something that has been bugging me for the last 5 years, in order to understand it I want to go back in time..
back in 2004, my boss handed me a cd and asked me to install this “ESX thingy.. i t was really hard for me because it wasn’t Plug ‘N’ play so finding an hardware that can run this thing was a challenge, however, I did found one and got blown away about the potential of this thing, back then you only used it to test small things, definitely nothing heavy..
flash forward to 2005, I was working as an Infrastructure Analyst (a fancy name for a sys admin..) for a large bank in the UK, you know, rack servers installation, configuration etc` but then I also got exposed to ESX 2.5 as part of a new development environment rollout, this time the platform was more mature but I discovered something that really annoyed me, every time I finished installing the HOST (ESX), I had to wait for days (sometimes even weeks) for both the Storage Guy (I love you man!) and the network guy to get their act together and configure all the “ECO” system components (LUNS, VLANS etc`) so I told myself: “what can be so hard configuring an EMC Celerra”?, I found out that on the surface it actually not that hard so I asked the guy to give me access to his precious excel file that he used to color modify every time a new lun has been curved (or deleted..), I also sent myself on my own expense to a cheap (unofficial) CISCO bootcamp so I could at least learn the basics..
flash forward to 2008
I was now working for EMC for this “weird” department that my boss and I created that will be responsible for professional services about everything EMC / VMware, it started really slow but it picked up amazingly good because customers had a lot of challenged picking up the right partner that will know about storage / virtualization in one “package”, during that time I often found myself as a technical “translator” between the Wintel / Storage / Networking teams..
flash forward to 2012
the year of the stacks!
who doesn’t have a converged infrastructure these days, (almost) every vendor under the planet got one with a unified management software that can carve up storage / networking / ESXi based on a “service offering” (every vendor uses a different terminology..) but the customers and us want to take it to the next level, we want to automate the entire process of installing a server (both the physical and it’s virtual lifecycle..) however, as good as our orchestration software can be, there is one VERY important subject to tackle first, the PEOPLE..
you see, you can spend 2,000,000$ (or more) on an orchestration engine that will orchestrate anything from installing the physical server to provision it’s application and to even raise a ticket while doing so which will then orchestrate a coffee for you (the coffee part will come with the next service pack) however putting a lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it anything else..but a pig
I recall a meeting where I introduced the unified management software and the storage administrator asked me “but can we manage just the storage inside the unified management software”..that in itself let the bulb above my ahead, “yes, you can" I answered “but for this you can continue doing what you are doing today", no need to spend money on a fancy management software”..
so what is the right answer?
frankly, I don’t think we vendors have all the answers, we have created a world that is divided into silos as you can see form the job description below so it will take time for people to pick up different “unified” skills
I would advice to everyone that is younger than 30-35 to start learning these skills ASAP..the train has already left the station and revolutions do happen.
I would risk saying that if I was a “C” level executive on an IT organization, I would start by breaking the local practice “team leader” role, meaning one team leader for storage / networking / system team Vs one team leader for each one of the different silos.
I would also advice starting to invest in roles that weren’t exist before such as a “cloud architects” that are actually building the environments Vs the ones that are consuming it as described by EMC below..
trust me, the storage administrator has better things to do apart from carving up luns, why not invest his / her time using the “Big Data” the storage creates and actually analyze it, thing that will actually create a business value Vs keeping the lights on, here’s a recent link to an interview with Sanjay our CIO: