Are You More Than Just a Cost Center?

Storage managers need to convince senior-level management that they're adding value to the enterprise

October 10, 2008

3 Min Read
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Storage administrators face a big challenge as the explosion of data being generated and stored within enterprises shows no sign of slowing. You have to keep asking for more money to buy more storage capacity and more software to manage it all, and you must keep adding new tools to virtualize and de-dupe and do all sorts of other innovative and useful things to the data.

It is beginning to look as if storage is the IT beast that's always hungry for more.

That's not a good position to be in during an economic downturn, when budgets are tight and getting tighter, and when upper management is looking for ways to cut costs and headcount. Yes, I know that a firehose of data keeps flooding your systems and it has to be stored somewhere. And it has to be accessible. And it has to be backed up. And it has to be kept secure. And much, much more.

But just asking for more may not be a career-enhancing move. So how do you convince your bosses and their bosses that what you do does in fact add value to the enterprise?

Many of your counterparts in the IT department have found ways to do that, or have at least convinced those that matter that they're cutting costs at every opportunity. The Web developers talk about the branding and marketing aspects of the company's Website, and in some cases can point to revenue generated by sales on the site. The code jockeys can talk about more efficient business processes that speed decision making, do a better job of tracking materials in the supply chain, or more effectively manage the customer relationship to sell more products and services. And some of the applications they've developed do provide a competitive advantage, and a few are even being sold for real money.The server administrators were in a tough spot for a while, adding so many new machines so quickly that many were running out of data center space, while, at the same time, the cost to power and cool them was skyrocketing. But now, thanks to server virtualization, they can talk about how they are consolidating servers, increasing utilization rates, and cutting the cash needed to power and cool their machines. They can say they're going green and saving money.

I'm sure that some of you, savvy survivors that you are, have developed arguments and strategies to make the case that storage is more than just a cost center. And I am asking you to share those tips. We all know of the obvious arguments: We needed to backup and have a disaster recovery plan in case a hurricane or tornado hits and you can point to the Gulf Coast in case somebody needs more convincing. And rules and regulations regarding compliance and audits and data protection are another driving force, not to mention the cost of eDiscovery.

But that's playing "prevent defense" and rarely scores points. There have to be good, impactful reasons that can be presented to show why storage is more important than it seems on the surface, why the business needs to invest in these technologies, and why there really is a return on that investment.

Many storage managers may not have had to present such a case until recently. But those that find themselves in that position need to know which arguments were effective and which ones didn't work and how you modified your case to get the resources you needed to do your job. Please share your success stories by clicking the "discuss" link below. Your fellow storage managers will thank you.

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