Monitor your storage -- or else

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Long-term trending is critical to maintaining a surprise-free storage infrastructure

We all have a tendency to put off responsibilities that pay off over the long haul but seem to provide little immediate value. So it goes with long-term monitoring of storage, an activity essential to the success of any centralized primary storage environment. Monitoring is often forgotten until it's too late to be useful. If you don't want your storage architecture to become obsolete before its time, you need to implement monitoring now.

Why you need to monitor storage

A comprehensive storage monitoring strategy helps you catch problems before they're problems. Whether it's simple stuff, such as being able to forecast when you'll need more disk, or the more complex task of determining whether an application slowdown is storage-related, monitoring is often the only way to answer these questions with any certainty. Without an early-warning system, sooner or later you will be faced with an unexpected capital investment or a prolonged troubleshooting adventure.

Back in November, I detailed a real-world example of this in "Scenes from a disaster: An upgrade gone too far." In that instance, an enterprise was bitten by the increased performance demands of an upgraded version of a line-of-business application. No monitoring solution capable of trending performance was in place, and the new version went live without anyone evaluating whether the new release was going to push the storage harder than the previous version had. Long story short, it did -- and how.

The only tried-and-true way of avoiding that problem and hundreds more like it is to have a monitoring framework that lets you see what your storage is doing, both right now and well into the past. How else can you expect to identify an unusual situation? Also, monitoring can accelerate diagnoses that your storage system is not the cause of a problem you're experiencing. The faster you can rule out part of your infrastructure as the cause of a problem, the faster you can move on to address the real cause.

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