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From tools and technologies to techniques and tricks of the trade

Data Infrastructure Server Storage I/O and Related Tradecraft Overview

Data Infrastructure server storage I/O network and associated tradecraft are your skills, experiences, insight as well as tricks of the trade, profession and job function (read more about what is a data infrastructure here). This is the first of a two-part series exploring data infrastructure along with server storage I/O and related tradecraft. Read part two of this series here.

Data Infrastructures

Data Infrastructure and IT Infrastructure Layers

Data infrastructure encompasses servers, storage, I/O and networking along with associated hardware, software, services and management tasks including data protection among others. Tradecraft is knowing about tools, technologies, and trends in your primary domain as well as adjacent focus areas. However, tradecraft is also about knowing how and when to use different technologies, tools with various techniques to address different scenarios.

What Is Your Tradecraft
An example of expanding tradecraft is, for instance, an automobile technician who has learned how to change oil, check tire air pressure, or other essential entry-level functions. On the other hand, a master mechanic knows how to do more involved tasks, from the engine to transmission repair or rebuilding, bodywork, along with troubleshooting. A master mechanic not only knows what buttons, knobs, tools, and techniques to use for different tasks, he also knows how to diagnose problems, as well as what usually causes those problems to occur.

There are many other examples, including salespeople who have the tradecraft of selling, including account as well as relationship building along with the ability to learn new tradecraft related to the trade or items they are or will be selling. Moreover, then there are pre-sales and systems engineers, technical marketing, product and program management, test and development, R&D engineering, IT and technology architects, among many others.

IT Data Infrastructure Professionals

Another example is engineers and architects (non-IT) who have basic design along with engineering discipline tradecraft, as well as specialties such as mechanical, electrical, heating ventilation air condition (HVAC), or environmental, among others. They can leverage their basic tradecraft while extending and enhancing it by gaining insight as well as experience in adjacent areas of focus.

For IT and data infrastructure tradecraft this means expanding from basic tasks to being able to do more advanced things. For example, developing tradecraft from knowing the different hardware, software, and services resources as well as tools, to what to use when, where, why, and how. Another dimension of expanding data infrastructure tradecraft skills is gaining the experience and insight to troubleshoot problems, gain insight awareness with dashboard or monitoring tools, as well as how to design and manage to cut or reduce the chance of things going wrong.

From Tools and Technologies to Techniques and Tricks of the Trade
Expanding your awareness of new technologies along with how they work is important, so too is understanding application and organization needs. Developing your tradecraft means balancing the focus on new and old technologies, tools, and techniques with business or organizational application functionality.

This is where using various tools that themselves are applications to gain insight into how your data infrastructure is configured and being used, along with the applications they support, is important.

Data Infrastructure Tool Box

Learning the Talk and Walking the Talk
For some people their tradecraft is only learning the talk, so that they can talk the talk of trends, techniques, technology buzzwords to do their job (or get a job) and fit in. The next step is comprehending the talk, gaining more insight and experience ability of what to do (and not do) by walking the talk. Sometimes this means learning from mistakes (yours or others) to prevent them in the future.

Expanding your tradecraft means learning the talk as well as how to walk the talk for adjacent areas. This can mean new skills, ability, tools, and technologies along with proper terminology. For your data infrastructure tradecraft, you need to acquire competencies in these different yet related areas.

Even if your focus is to be a hardware or software or services person, there are opportunities to expand your tradecraft. For example extend into physical, virtualization, cloud, container, networking, storage, performance, data protection, or security, among others. This also means comprehending how the pieces work together to support the business applications, as well as the impact on each other (e.g. cause and effect).

Part of tradecraft is also understanding that various terms and acronyms have different context meaning. For example, SAS can mean big data statistical analysis software or Serial Attached SCSI among others. What this means is as your tradecraft expands, so too does awareness that different terms have various meaning along with the importance of asking for context.

Another example of understanding context is Fabric. Fabric can also have different context and meaning. It can refer to a network of switches, directors, and routers tying together servers, storage, bridges, gateways, and other devices, but it can also be associated with higher-level application functions, or a cluster of servers or services, as well as data. Keep context in mind about fabric: whether it is referring to lower-level physical and logical networks, or applications and data, among others.

Yet another context example includes that client can have different meanings, including software or applications that communicate with a server or service, local or in the cloud. A variation of client can also be a type of device, such as a tablet, laptop, mobile device or phone, as well as a workstation with varying software for accessing different data infrastructure as well as applications. Another context for client is the user, person, or thing such as IoT that accesses and interacts with client software or server and services of application or data resources. Yet another context for client is a consumer of lower-level data infrastructure resources or higher-level applications services.

Where to learn more
Continue reading more and expanding your tradecraft experiences with the following among other resources:

What this means
Remember that tradecraft is skills, experiences, tricks, and techniques along with knowing what as well as how to use various related tools as part of what it is that you are doing. Continue reading more about data infrastructure along with server storage I/O network hardware software as well as associated management tradecraft in part two of this series here.

Ok, nuff said for now


Greg Schulz - Microsoft MVP Cloud and Data Center Management, vSAN and VMware vExpert. Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and twitter @storageio. Watch for the spring 2017 release of his new book "Software-Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press).

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2017 Server StorageIO(R) and UnlimitedIO All Rights Reserved

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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