Staffing a SAN Storage Migration Team

Joe Bowman – Sr. Storage Recruiter / Storage Staffing

The time has come when your organization needs to undertake a large scale Storage migration project.  The drivers for the project are variable, and if executed well the duration of the project is in the 3-9 month range.  Groups across the organization will be impacted by the migration, so the accuracy and timeliness of the migrations are critical.

The roles you identify and how you describe the roles can be key to your project success.  Who are the players you should consider adding to your project team and what are their respective roles?  These are some of the roles and responsibilities we used on a recent project where we consulted for a client.

  • Executive Sponsor
    When you undertake a project of this scope you need an effective Executive Sponsor.  To be an effective motivator, the Executive Sponsor should be in the upstream management hierarchy for everyone on the project team.  The Executive Sponsor can be your closest ally when you need to motivate an ineffective team player or ensure the project is appropriately prioritized in the eyes of the project team.
  • Business Sponsor
    An enterprise wide Storage migration project can touch virtually every department in the business.  As such you need an effective Business Sponsor to present this project to your various stakeholders.  The Business Sponsor will help engage your stakeholders into the migration process and assure that migrations will be completed without any loss of data.  On smaller projects this role may be carried out by the PM, and in larger projects/organizations a Business Sponsor may be required for each line of business.  A Business Sponsor may serve as an intermediate escalation point to the Executive Sponsor.
  • Project Manager
    While having a Project Manager with specific Storage migration experience is not necessary, having an understanding can help get the project off the ground faster.  The PM wears many hats.  I like to think that the PM is responsible for making sure the project meets the S.M.A.R.T. criteria.  If the project falls behind schedule, over budget, or creeps out of scope the PM will be responsible for escalating and bringing the project back in line. The PM owns primary responsibility for the overall success of the project.
  • Business Analyst
    The Business Analyst needs to be able to quickly gain a basic understanding of the technology for the purposes of working as a liaison between the more technical people on the project and the business.  The BA will be responsible for translating the feedback of the Technical Lead and team into a set of Business Requirements outlining the migration process.  Once the migrations begin the BA will be responsible for building metrics to determine if the migration is ahead of, on, or behind schedule.
  • Technical Leads
    The Technical Lead for the project is responsible for architecting the migration process from the source to the target.  The Tech Lead should be a Subject Matter Expert on all things related to the migration and may be responsible for determining if there is enough Storage available for the migration.
  • Migration Leads
    The Migration Lead executes the plan that is architected by the Technical Lead and the Business Analyst.  Attention to detail is critical in this role.  The Tech Lead and Migration Lead may be the same person in smaller projects.  In larger projects / organizations where the work may have to occur overnight on weekends, it may make sense to separate these roles, as often the Tech Lead will also have the responsibility for maintaining the environment.  The Migration Lead may be responsible for building a migration specific cadence.
  • Server Lead
    If patching for servers is not kept up to date, the Server Lead(s) will need to patch (remediate) the servers prior to commencing large scale Storage migrations.  Patching / remediation can take weeks or months depending on the size of the project.  The server lead should be consulted in the migration method that is chosen for their environment, as they will be responsible for validating the servers after the migrations are complete.  Skilled Server Engineers will be critical to successful migrations of servers while minimizing impact or downtime.
  • Facilities Leads
    Often times the entire team will be working remotely.  Where cables need to be moved (fabric migrations) or servers need to be manually powered on, Facilities Leads may be required.  Talented Facilities Leads (or as some people refer to them… cable pullers) are critical to a large scale migrations where cables are moved.
  • Move Coordinators
    The Move Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the team during the migration.  A conference call where a Storage migration is happening might have 5-10 people or more on the line.  Without someone in charge, there is the potential for chaos.  The Move Coordinator’s role is to make sure all of the teams work together in an effective manner.  It is not uncommon that this role might be filled by the Project Manager or Business Analyst.

The roles in each team will vary, and in some cases a single person may own two or more of these roles.  I’d be interested to hear how this compares to a recent SAN migration project on which you worked.

Do you need a Migration Lead for your IBM to NetApp Storage migration or a Project Manager for your EMC hardware refresh?   Storage Staffing specializes in providing businesses with highly skilled Storage professionals capable of turning even the most complex and challenging data management issues into something manageable.  Let us provide a Hero for your next Storage Project.  We also offer a dedicated Migration Hit Squad ™ that will knock out your migration and leave without a trace.

Storage Staffing, solving the resource needs of the Storage community one Hero at a time.
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About the Author – Joe Bowman is a Sr. Storage Recruiter for Storage Staffing and a PMP Certified project manager with experience in the Storage industry leading and staffing enterprise wide, time sensitive Storage Migration projects.  Most recently Joe has focused his skills on helping companies acquire Storage Heroes to remedy their Storage Management resource needs nationwide.


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