Book Review: Information Storage and Management

Title: Information Storage and Management
ISBN: 978-0470294215
Pages: 480

About a month ago I began to take a journey to understand more of the storage side of the Data Center.  I had to start with a vendor, and decided that as far as formal study I would start with EMC.  EMC has a pretty involved certification program that has many different levels and many different specialities.  All of them however have in common that they require the completion of the Information Storage and Management (ISM) test.  Upon completion of this test, the candidate now is an “EMC Proven Professional”, specifically they are an EMCISA (EMC Certified Information Storage Associate).

Information and Storage Management

What I like most about EMC’s approach to the foundations of storage, is that it is actually very vender agnostic.  The concepts that they cover and require the candidate to know, can be applied to just about any vendors products.  The way I approached my study was to take advantage of what EMC calls the EMC Proven Professional Starter Kit.  This kit includes a Video Instructor-Led Training (VILT) DVD for the ISM course, a coupon to get a discount on the ISM book, a test voucher so that you can take the ISM test at no cost, and a EMC Proven Guide.  Another benefit is that it allows you to name an EMC Advocate.  This can be anyone who is EMC Proven.  Upon completion of your certification within 6 months of purchasing the starter kit, they get $200!  This is a fantastic deal, because if you price all the parts separately I believe it comes to over $1500.00.

Just about everything covered in the VILT is in the book.  You get PDF’s with the VILT as well.  So my point is you don’t really need the book if you have the VILT, but its very nice to have as a reference.  A lot of my studying is done on airplanes, and when we are taxiing, ascending or descending I like to read books since I have to turn off the laptop.  I also enjoy reading material and at the same time also repeating my learning with video training, its more interesting to digest in two formats than say to read the book twice.

The contents of the book are very encompassing.  The following topics are covered:

  1. Section I Storage System
    1. Chapter 1 Introduction to Information Storage and Management
    2. Chapter 2 Storage System Environment
    3. Chapter 3 Data Protection: RAID
    4. Chapter 4 Intelligent Storage System
  2. Section II Storage Networking Technologies and Virtualization
    1. Chapter 5 Direct-Attached Storage and Introduction to SCSI
    2. Chapter 6 Storage Area Networks
    3. Chapter 7 Network-Attached Storage
    4. Chapter 8 IP SAN
    5. Chapter 9 Content-Addressed Storage
    6. Chapter 10 Storage Virtualization
  3. Section III Business Continuity
    1. Chapter 11 Introduction to Business Continuity
    2. Chapter 12 Backup and Recovery
    3. Chapter 13 Local Replication
    4. Chapter 14 Remote Replication
  4. Section IV Storage Security and Management
    1. Chapter 15 Securing the Storage Infrastructure
    2. Chapter 16 Managing the Storage Infrastructure

I found the book to be a fairly easy read.  As most of you know I started my Data Center learning form the routing and switching side and then moved into storage infrastructure (Cisco MDS).  It would make just as much sense for someone to start their knowledge of storage from the storage array side, which is really EMC’s core business.  I have not taken the exam yet, but I feel pretty well prepared. There are quizzes in the book so you can check your progress.  Everything is kept at a relatively high level, as this is a very broad amount of material which covers many different areas.  If you wanted further knowledge, for example, in CLARiiON, you would simply drill down deeper and take a learning path and tests which focus just on that product.  EMC has broken its certification into many areas, one of the key distinctions I can see from the beginning is that of Technology Architects (Pre Sales) and Implementation Engineers (Post Sales).  I plan to pursue the the SI2 TA certification as well as the CX and NS (CLARiiON and Celerra) IE certifications after I finish with my ISM exam.

One thing I can say about this book, is I have not seen a book that gives this much real world, practical overview of the entire storage eco-system.  EMC has done a great job with this book, and I feel it has just the right amount of depth to it to get someone started down a storage certification path.  Hats off to EMC for a great book!  I know many people who are well EMC certified, who still keep this book close to them as it’s an excellent reference on many different storage technologies.

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