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Stand-up comedian George Carlin gives a memorable routine on "stuff," where he brings out that life is really about the acquisition and storage of personal "stuff." Carlin concludes: "That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff."

Many would argue that Carlin's comedic observations, while elementary, resonate with truth. Whether it's at home, (Carlin calls a house "a pile of stuff with a cover on it") or at the office, we all need a little place for our stuff.

In a work environment, your "stuff" can cover a mishmash of data ranging from confidential company documents, prospect-specific sales presentations, and custom application files to MP3s and photos of your family. In efficient organizations these items are stored in a network storage directory apart from the workstation's hard disk. A variety of factors determine what is allowed to be stored on the network including company storage policies, home directory size allocations and access privileges to network directories.

Traditional Storage Management
A major challenge facing organizations today is meeting the demands for ever-increasing storage space. According to Forrester Research, "storage [is] still setting the pace in computer equipment [purchases]" and the research organization conservatively projects US investment in storage will grow by 11 percent this year, following a 13 percent investment in 2005. 1

In other words, requirements for "a little place for your stuff" are changing dramatically. And while storage demand is increasing, the budgets of the IT departments assigned to accommodate these demands are not growing proportionately. In fact, a Computerworld survey of 338 executive-level IT professionals indicates that 48 percent of IT departments would have no head count growth at all in 2006. 2

The traditional method of responding to storage requirement needs is for an IT worker to address work requests individually through a manual work order process that has changed little during the last 20 years. Typical work order requests can vary from giving a user access to more disk space, archiving files, deleting files, granting access to new storage areas, archiving or deleting home directories of former employees, providing access to former employees' home directories to a designated employee, and more.

Addressing Corporate Memory Loss

When an employee leaves a company, how do you keep his knowledge from walking out the door with him? In a groundbreaking 2002 book entitled Continuity Management, authors Beazley, Boenisch and Harden surmise that you can't, unless you have a process in place to transfer that knowledge to a successor.

Consultant and author David DeLong followed up with a book in 2004 entitled Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce, where he concludes that retiring employees are taking vital knowledge with them and that getting this knowledge from them before they leave is a challenge and will become an increasingly difficult problem. DeLong proposes that organizations need to take action now, and says that IT can serve as a facilitator of knowledge retention.

Sometimes companies have a flawed sense of ease, thinking that simply saving or archiving the contents of a former employee's home directory addresses knowledge loss. Unfortunately, many companies don't have any transactional processes in place for assuring that the former employee's home directory contents are properly analyzed and transferred to successors. Over time, a large company can end up having hundreds of "orphan home directories" that it doesn't know what to do with. And with network administrators unfamiliar with the former employees or the relevance of the contents of their home directories, the number of orphan home directories keeps growing.

Novell Storage Manager 2 addresses these problems by helping you establish policies that take action automatically once an employee leaves a company. Based on the company policy, the role of the user, or the group to which the user belongs, you can vault, delete or send the departing employee's home directory to their former manager who can review and take action on it.

This method is flawed for a number of reasons. First of all, the manual method has associated costs to both the IT department and potentially, the employee both of whom lose work time until the work order is completed. Second, the manual process is subject to human error something you can't afford when it comes to compliance with today's industry and government regulations for data storage. Third, in the case of determining what to do with former employees' files, the IT worker and perhaps the former employees' managers are tasked with determining which of the files are relevant to keep, whom to designate files to, etc., before the former employees' projects can be continued by someone else.

It's no wonder that storage continues to be one of the top ten technologies considered most important in companies today. 3

Provisioned Storage Management through eDirectory
Novell introduced File System Factory in 1994 to address the headaches that come through storage demand by extending the file storage and management capabilities of eDirectory. With File System Factory, storage requirements for users were provisioned automatically based on a user's identity and the storage policies that resided in eDirectory.

It united the user-provisioning functionality of eDirectory-based solutions with the storage-provisioning capabilities of the NetWare file system. As a result, File System Factory completely automated the creation, management and deletion of personal and collaborative storage, delivering the industry's only identity-based storage management solution.

Getting a Closer Look

Novell has introduced three 5- to 6-minute narrated Flash demos that show the real power of Storage Manager 2 through the product's administration tool. These demos covers Storage Manager 2's ability to get existing storage under control and manage it with storage policies, as well as its ability to provision and manage the complete life cycle of an employee's storage.

This revolutionary approach to storage management was a Godsend to organizations managing large numbers of users with varying and changing storage requirements. Network administrators only needed to define how storage should be handled for a particular user, role or group in eDirectory and File System Factory would check those policies and take immediate action based on its findings or any new events.

Version 1 updates continued to be developed and the feature set was expanded so the product soon found itself deployed to more than 4 million users in a wide range of industries including major universities, hospitals, state government branches and manufacturing firms.

With file system-related work requests in these industries and others now being automated through storage polices in eDirectory, IT departments had time freed up to focus on some of the other tasks of network management.

Novell Storage Manager 2
Novell just launched version 2 of the product with a new name—Novell Storage Manager 2. The new name better emphasizes the complete management capabilities of the product.

Novell Storage Manager 2 builds on version 1's strong policy-driven storage management foundation for NetWare and Open Enterprise Server for Linux networks and extends them to Microsoft networks using Active Directory. Additionally, a host of new features have been added, providing even better management capabilities and options. Here are a few of the more notable features in Novell Storage Manager 2 you need to check out:

  1. Support for Microsoft Windows Networks
    The identity-based storage management services of Novell Storage Manager 2 have been extended to Microsoft Windows networks through Active Directory for full life cycle storage management. Windows administrator's can now provision, manage, vault and clean up user home folders and profile paths.

    The Novell Storage Manager 2.0 engine runs natively on a Microsoft Windows Server, with no requirement for Novell eDirectory or NetWare servers.

  2. Reduced Traffic over WANs
    Distributed processing now takes place through NSM Sentinels. The central Novell Storage Manager 2 server can automatically deploy NSM Sentinels to target servers, based on need, to delegate Storage Manager 2 work. This means that workload that once took place through the central server engine, can now take place locally through the NSM Sentinel. Consequently, this can significantly reduce traffic over WANs. In addition, the NSM Sentinel can be set up to serve as a Novell Storage Manager 2 proxy.

  3. Advanced Storage Reports System
    The reporting system has been updated to allow administrators the ability to create reports according to specific criteria. For example, you can now create a report on current user file access patterns, or the ages and access patterns of all the files in the network.

    Additionally, the system will create detailed reports on the type of files being stored on the network, and identify the users storing these files so you can create reports on when a file was last accessed, the size of files, file ownership, etc. Once a report is generated, you can export it to HTML and utilize it to determine what type of vaulting rules to set up or modify.

  4. Policy-based File Archiving and Clean-up
    New vault rules let you perform policy-based file archiving and clean-up of user directories. Vault rules can automatically remove files that violate company policy, and transparently move files between high- and low-cost storage media, as needed.

  5. File Grooming and Scrubbing
    This new feature lets you search existing home directories and groom and scrub files according to policy, and then take appropriate action according to internal company policies. Actions can include deleting or vaulting/archiving files based on file types and/or the date the files were last accessed or modified. You can also generate a detailed report that lists all of the file grooming and scrubbing actions that took place.

  6. Improved and Simplified Administration Tool
    A new graphical administration tool lets you more easily configure and manage Storage Manager, and more easily deploy Event Monitor and Sentinel servers as needed. (See Figure 1.)

And More
A new Global User Reconnect feature lets you re-create deleted user storage if within a defined time period. You can also control how storage policies are applied if a user is a member of multiple groups that have associated user storage policies. Storage Manager 2 also integrates with Novell NetStorage, providing automatic provisioning, management and integration with Novell NetStorage objects. File system trustee rights analysis capabilities have been added to ensure that only the appropriate people have access to storage resources. (See Figure 2.)

While all of us want a little place for our "stuff," none of us wants the headaches that come with traditional storage management of our stuff. Storage Manager 2 solves storage management headaches by leveraging the power of eDirectory and now Active Directory to automate your storage management tasks. EndOfArticleRedN

1US IT Spending Summary: Q4 2005, Forrester Research, March 31, 2005
2Computerworld survey, August 2005
3 Ibid

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