Creating a Storage Management Policy, Part 1

IT professionals serve their user communities by keeping corporate computing resources and information readily available. Yet storage hardware and software management tools offer companies only a partial overall storage management solution. The necessary ongoing management process and cleanup activities directly affect users. In fact, users play a key role in deciding whether to leave information online, delete it, or archive it—they know what is and isn't important to the business. A clear set of guidelines defining the rules and responsibilities for storage management is the other element of an overall solution. Users must understand why the company is implementing storage management and what their role is in the process. User buy-in to the policy is crucial.

A policy development process addresses the politics involved in storage issues and makes your job easier. (Storage is a political issue because IT will ask users to place limits on something that users perceive as infinite.) A policy comprising a couple of pages clearly articulating the rules, roles, and responsibilities should be sufficient for most small-to-midsize companies. You can post the policy on your intranet for employee access.

When you set up a storage management policy development team, be sure to select members who represent different areas of your organization. The team can then address such issues as the following:

  • Quota size for various user groups
  • Off-limits file types
  • Procedures to follow when users approach quotas (e.g., how will you alert users when they’re close to quota and what will happen when they exceed quota?)

Procedures should also include:

  • Managers' and other users' roles and responsibilities
  • Backup and archiving responsibilities

The following tips can help you build a successful storage management policy.

Avoid Political Problems
Understanding human nature is important to your task. As you set up a storage management policy, how you approach your user community is critical to the policy's successful implementation. Your users' perception will make implementing the policy either easy or difficult.

Don't Dictate
Network administrators (and IT personnel in general) often have little experience in marketing ideas. As a result, IT messages can seem dictatorial—worded as if to command computers. Blunt statements directing users won't endear you to them nor help you reach your objective with the least resistance. If you present the concept of storage management well to the organization, network administrators' jobs will be much easier.

Help Users Understand Why
Users must understand the reasons behind managing storage and establishing quotas—as well as why their participation matters. They should understand that a policy defines the rules of the game so everyone knows what's expected. The reason to control user disk space is to improve the overall service to the organization. Users will have network information more readily available at the right time if they have frequently cleaned up their "junk" from corporate storage resources.

(Adapted, with permission, from an NTP Software Best Practices document)

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