BrightStor eases SAN control

As much as some vendors would like it, most enterprises are not homogeneous when it comes to hardware. In fact, most organizations are mosaics of systems and solutions, thanks to changing technology, good deals and buyers’ preferences. While this can sometimes help the bottom line, it can simultaneously turn administrators’ hair grey when it comes to managing and troubleshooting these disparate systems.

Computer Associates Intl., an Islandia, N.Y.-based company, has recently launched a product designed to simplify the administration and troubleshooting of multi-vendor storage area networks (SANs).

BrightStor SAN Manager supports a full range of devices including EMC, ADIC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Emulex, Brocade and XIOtech, and provides users a single point of control to discover, visualize, monitor and administer all SAN components.

Peter Farquharson, manager of technology integration for the City of Saskatoon, has been using the product in its beta version since the end of last year. For Farquharson, BrightStor was an obvious solution.

“We’ve been a CA client for some time, and had reasonable expectations going in. It does what it advertises and gives you a high-level management of your SAN environment,” he said.

The BrightStor SAN Manager has been developed to integrate with other CA solutions, including the BrightStor Storage Resource Manager and BrightStor Portal, as well as with Unicenter infrastructure management solutions and eTrust security solutions.

Eric Pitcher, Computer Associates’ vice-president for BrightStor, said that one of the best features of this product is its simplicity.

“Instead of replacing complex tools with another complex tool, this is an easy-to-use, highly graphical solution to manage a SAN,” he said.

He explained that most large enterprises have one or two people who are highly trained and devoted to taking care of the day-to-day administration and troubleshooting of SANs. But according to Pitcher, the BrightStor SAN Manager allows this duty to be moved to the operations desk, freeing up the time of these other individuals.

“It puts these tasks into the hands of the people who are already doing administration and troubleshooting for the rest of the enterprise,” he said. “From a management point of view, it’s a better way to utilize staff resources.”

The product works by allowing administrators to graphically zoom in on problem areas and visualize what might be going wrong. According to Pitcher, this enables administrators to make educated decisions in terms of prioritizing fixes.

“It’s able to logically group departments, so if the single icon for the HR department turns red and it’s a Saturday night, you can make the decision to wait for a senior level person to come in on 9 a.m. on Monday morning. But if that object represents CRM or Web sales, then that’s an emergency and needs to be addressed immediately,” he said.

Farquharson said that the installation of the solution was easier than expected. Generally, a representative from Computer Associates is onsite for the installation, however, outside circumstances saw Farquharson doing the job on his own.

“I just followed the directions, and it went pretty smoothly,” he said.

Farquharson manages a storage environment that includes an IBM Shark and two of IBM’s earlier SAN products, which connect into three switches which connect to about 20 hosts.

“It works well as a stand-alone product, but as well as part of the existing CA solution,” Farquharson said.