The Virtual Mind-set

Storage staffers can make the leap to managing virtual environments, but not without targeted training.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3

NMHC began creating its own virtual storage environment using HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Arrays in late 2002, says Kudaravalli. To help strengthen its knowledge base in this area, the company has cross-trained some of its Unix and Windows administrators, he says. That approach has not only provided growth opportunities for some of its IT staffers, but it has also been cost-effective for NMHC, says Kudaravalli.

For example, although its storage capacity has swelled from 5TB to 6TB in 2002 to about 70TB today, the company hasn't experienced a corresponding increase in manpower, says Kudaravalli. "We still have to manage the same amount of dollar figure, but we have to do more," he says. "That's why there's more emphasis on cross-training."

Besides, these types of nascent skills are tough to find. It's particularly challenging in the public sector because storage virtualization specialists must also have the necessary security clearances to do the work, says Rick Gonzalez, vice president of strategic alliances at NJVC LLC, a Vienna, Va.-based government services provider. In fact, IT professionals with security credentials typically command $5,000 to $10,000 above the standard market rate for people with storage virtualization skills alone, he says.

And the human resources needs are even more complex at companies like Xerox Corp., which manages some of its storage internally while also using storage virtualization services from third-party vendors.

"We need sourcing talent that not only knows how to contract [for virtualization services] but to monitor that contract successfully," says Bob Davis, vice president of global strategy, change and performance at Xerox Information Management, a predominantly outsourced IT organization with about 800 employees.

The Training You Need

Storage vendors such as EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and HP offer extensive training for users of their storage systems. HP, which is an authorized training partner of virtualization vendor VMware Inc., has provided training to 10,000 people, says Nancy Lunger, general manager of HP Education Services.

Virtualization training classes offered by local user groups can also be useful -- and they're popular. For example, a northern Nevada chapter of the HP user group Connect hosted a storage virtualization training session in May that attracted 42 people, says Steve Davidek, a Connect board member who is also a systems administrator for the city of Sparks, Nev. In contrast, the previous Connect meeting for that chapter drew 20 people. Similar virtualization classes around the country have also been well attended, he says.

Even though some IT organizations have been involved with various types of virtualization for a few years, storage virtualization is still a brave new world. "Nobody's an expert yet," says Davidek. "We're all still learning this as we go along."

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Got something to add? Let us know in the article comments.

Next: A product guide to storage virtualization

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon