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80% of storage professionals want to manage their IT Director

October 2009 by

Research conducted for the upcoming Storage Expo exhibition has revealed the need and desire to have an effective working relationship with their IT Director was further highlighted by the poll revealing that a massive 80% of storage professionals want to learn how to manage their IT Director.

Jon Collins, CEO and Managing Director of Freeform Dynamics and one of Storage Expo’s keynote speakers, said that many outsiders thought of an IT department as one entity with everyone working towards the same goal.

However, he said the reality is senior figures are getting pulled in multiple directions at once and there is a lot of fragmentation, such as silo-ed applications, independent SANs, separate management tools or new technologies deployed alongside the old.

He said: “It’s a jungle in there, and the IT director has to take the role of chief plate spinner. A good part of anyone’s job, therefore, is to work with them to ensure your own, ever-growing plates stay spinning.”

Mr Collins pointed out that the storage arena is all about four things: capacity, throughput, service levels and sourcing. The research of over 400 organisations revealed that 40% believe the most important key factor for measuring the effectiveness of their IT Director is capacity. For 33%, service levels were key, while 25% said throughput was most important and 2% cited sourcing.

Mr Collins added that his own research had shown data growth is currently one of the main drivers of change, with storage capacity challenges affecting all sizes of company, large and small.

To read a 60-second interview with Mr Collins where he discusses these areas in more detail, go to

While ‘delegating upwards’ to an IT Director to achieve your goals may be attractive in theory, Mr Collins believes it won’t get anyone very far. He said storage professionals must first get a clear picture of what they have, what it is supposed to be doing, what it is actually doing and where the issues are.

While building such a picture is difficult, he believes using the Pareto Principle of identifying the 20% of systems that add 80% of value or complexity will take people a long way forward: “This may sound obvious but if you already create a weekly report of exactly where things stand, then you will be in the minority.”

Mr Collins said building a clear picture of what you want to achieve is a means to an end: the goal is to engender trust in your IT Director that the storage environment is in safe, competent hands. This in turn will allow priorities to be set and listened to, and enable successful buy-in.

As Mr Collins points out: “If your IT director is not expecting a business case, then you are far less likely to have it accepted. A business case should capture the detail of what you have already discussed and agreed verbally; otherwise you will face an uphill struggle.”

He concluded: “The life of the storage manager is never going to be easy. But building a relationship with the IT director based on trust, and working together to deliver on the priorities of the business, offers a better starting point than attempting to go it alone.”

In “The Practitioner Panel: How to Manage Your IT Director”, Mr Collins will be joined by Garry Hanson, IT/IS Manager, Reading Football Club, and David Boswell, IT Infrastructure, Operations and Support Manager, Reed Elsevier, to give some real insight into this critical working relationship and how to help ensure all sides arrive at the same desired result whatever you’re trying to achieve.

Five key points that delegates will be able to take away from this discussion include:

1. How to communicate with your IT Director

2. What do they need to know and how should you provide it to them - do not assume they know!

3. What information will get you what you need to do your job – appropriate, timely and cost benefits

4. What dashboards to provide them with to monitor the IT infrastructure and allow them to sell IT services into your business units?

5. What are the hot technologies to update them on?

With two days of stimulating and thought provoking seminars that reflect the needs of today’s data storage professionals and information management experts, Storage Expo 2009 gives you the chance to improve and update your storage and information management strategies.

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