Designing a storage architecture

If your storage architecture design methodology lacks discipline, try implementing a shared services model that incorporates function, strategy and cost.

If you're concerned your storage architecture design methodology lacks discipline or is disconnected from your larger IT strategy, try implementing a shared services model with the following technical design criteria:

  1. Function
  2. Strategy
  3. Cost

Technical functionality is separate and distinct from the functional requirements provided to the business by an application. Typically, this is established at the project outset, where the storage architect gathers the functional requirements provided by the business and translates them into nonfunctional aspects of the design that can be delivered by known technologies. This requires the architect to establish service, performance and operational details that will eventually be formalised in service agreements and include business continuity and information lifecycle requirements. This process creates a body of technical information that will feed into the next phase.

Strategic design principles should align themselves with an organisation's technical service portfolio and reference architecture matrix.
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Strategic design principles should align themselves with an organisation's technical service portfolio and reference architecture matrix. With the technical components of the project established in the previous stage, a storage architect can select a corresponding service to meet those requirements and the existing architectural components to deliver them. For example, a data resiliency requirement requested by a business stakeholder would have corresponding definitions in the technical service portfolio and reference architecture matrix. In this case, it could be 99% availability and tier 1 on array x.

As a factor in the design process, cost will typically operate in a chargeback framework that ensures the technical teams can provide for individual project requirements and maintain the shared components that are a vital buttress for the entire infrastructure. Effective chargeback models include not only hardware and software costs, but ongoing support and staff training requirements. Ensuring that cost is a design criteria, and implementing a disciplined and consistent chargeback mechanism, not only assists with maintaining a viable infrastructure and capacity planning, but guarantees that the business is forced to realistically re-evaluate and re-prioritise the functional requirements established in the first phase.

Storage architecture should reside within a wider architectural framework and include the broad design principles of function, strategy and cost within the technical domain of that methodology. By underpinning this with a shared service approach to project fulfilment, storage architects can predictably deliver functional and cost-effective architectures.

BIO: Atiek Arian is a senior consultant at GlassHouse Technologies (U.K.), a global provider of IT infrastructure services. He has eight years of experience in IT systems, storage, disaster recovery and high availability. Arian has significant experience in architecture, implementation and operational support within complex enterprise environments, with a primary focus on technical and procedural best practice.

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