And so it begins

By Juan Orlandini
4/5/2011

Thanks for listening.

Hi. I'm Juan. I'm a practice manager at Datalink. It's with distinct pleasure that I'm writing this. My job is primarily communicating with both our vendor partners and customer partners. Through this blog, I hope to do both in an open, honest, and informative way. As a practice manager, I own a few key relationships at Datalink, but I'm also part of a larger team tasked with evaluating our industries, the vendors that cover those industries, and the solutions that are available, as well as helping to pick the products and services our field sales and engineers present to our customers. I could not have a cooler job. Now, I get to share all of that with you.

Enough about that. Let's talk about something that means something to you, my dear reader. I've been in the storage, and particularly the backup, world for north of 20 years. "No!" you say. It's true, I am that old (and my girth shows it). In all those years, there has not been a more interesting time than now. For quite a number of years the backup (and recovery) world was in a rut. The storage world also happened to fall into a boring mire of "me too's". Discussions eventually boiled down to "how many tape drives," "how many networks," "how many gigasquirts and megaseekles," or "how much money you have." From my side, it really got boring. There were only so many ways of skinning the cat. Enter the world of Internet time, petabyte-sized shops, and zero RPO/RTO. All that, and we are told "no more people!"

Headcount is forever.

One of the key things we are faced with at Datalink is how to fix our customers' problems while keeping their headcounts flat. Technology comes and goes. Speeds and feeds vary. CAP-EX budgets ebb and flow. But... headcount seems to be forever. So, how do you backup more stuff, faster, more reliably, and with less people? That's a very good question. We have lots of answers to that, but the first thing you have to do is figure out what you're really trying to solve.

It's somewhat surprising to me that I get invited to talk to customers all over the country, and when I ask them "what are you trying to do?" – the customer often answers with "I can't back up fast enough!" Or, "my storage is growing too fast and I can't manage it." Usually, my next question is "how do you know that?" In response, heads turn about 15 degrees to the left, eyebrows furrow, and I get funny looks.

Funny thing is, to get that answered, customers have to figure out where they are first. Knowing that "it's busted" is not enough. Unfortunately, enterprise storage solutions have been historically ... ahh ... lacking in their reporting ability. Even worse, if customers have a good reporting tool, they often fall into analyzing the "what happened" instead of figuring out the "what should I do?" That kind of reactive behavior is the natural reaction. Unfortunately, it leads to wasted time, and not solving the "headcount" problem.

Over the next several blog entries, I'll discuss how we have been helping some of our customers through this very problem. Along the way, discussions will happen about technologies, companies, and events in the industry that help solve this and many other problems.

Stay tuned. There's much to say.