Storagebod There is no doubt that the role of the storage admin has changed. Technology has moved on and the business has changed, but the role still exists in one form or another.
You just have to look at the number of vendors out there jockeying for position; the existing big boys, the new kids of the block, the objectionable ones and the ones you simply want to file. There’s more choice than ever before – meaning more decisions to be made and more chances to make mistakes.
The day-to-day role of the storage admin – zoning, allocating LUNs, swearing at arcane settings, updating Excel spreadsheets and convincing people that it is all dark magic – that’s still there but much of it has got easier. I expect any modern storage device to be easily manageable on a day-to-day basis: I expect the GUI to be intuitive; I expect the CLI or API to be logical; and I hope the nomenclature used by most big players is common.
The storage admin does more on a day-to-day basis and does it quicker; the estates are growing ever larger but the number of storage admins is not increasing in line with that. But that part of the role still exists, even though it could be – and often is – done by a converged infrastructure team.
So why do people keep insisting the role is dead?
I think it's because they focus on the day-to-day LUN monkey stuff and that can be done by anyone.
I’m looking at things differently. I want people who understand business requirements, who then turn these into technical requirements, who can then talk to vendors and sort the wheat from the chaff. People who can filter bullshit, the crap that flies from all sides; the unreal marketing and unreal demands of the business.
I want people who look at complex systems and can break them down quickly, the ones who understand different types of application interactions and who understand the difference between IOPS, latency and throughput.
I want people who are prepared to ask pertinent and sometimes awkward questions, who look to challenge and change the status quo.
In any large IT infrastructure organisation, there are two teams who can generally look at their systems and make significant inferences about the health, the effectiveness and a difference to the infrastructure. They are often the two teams who are the most lambasted; one is the network team and the other the storage team. They are the two teams who are changing the fastest whilst maintaining a legacy infrastructure and keeping the lights on.
The server admin role has hardly really changed … even virtualisation has little impact on the role. Storage and network teams are changing rapidly; many are embracing software-defined whilst the industry is trying to decide what software-defined is.
Many are already pretty DevOps in nature. They just don’t call it that but you try to manage the rapid expansion in scale without a DevOps type approach.
I think many in the industry seem to want to kill off the storage specialist role, despite it being needed more than ever and is becoming a lot more key. You probably just won’t call them LUN Monkeys any more: they’ve evolved!
But we persist… ®