Fidelity installs SAN management tool

Fidelity Investments next week plans to announce that it’s rolling out a packaged storage-area network (SAN) management tool to replace an in-house application used to automatically provision storage space and charge business units for using the capacity.

For the past three months, Boston-based Fidelity has been working to install InterSAN Inc.’s Pathline 2.5 software at multiple data centers. Scotts Valley, Calif.-based InterSAN said it will formally announce that version this week; the software includes features such as chargeback reports and automated reconfiguration of data paths.

Ken Ayotte, a systems architect at Fidelity, said the mutual funds company is using Pathline to help its IT staff centrally manage about 50 percent of a SAN with more than 200TB of data stored primarily on EMC Corp.’s Symmetrix disk arrays and IBM Corp.’s Shark devices. By year’s end, Fidelity plans to use the software to manage 100 percent of the networked storage, Ayotte added.

Fidelity has already been autoprovisioning its storage devices for the past 18 months with homegrown software; switching to a commercial application has let the company free up several systems architects who had been working to maintain the in-house technology, said Ayotte.

“For anybody who’s got a team of architects, that’s the last thing you want them doing full time,” he said. “You want them looking out into the future and doing architect work.” Ayotte declined to disclose how much Fidelity is spending to install the Pathline software.

Storage administrators at Fidelity sometimes handle more than 100 provisioning requests per month, which can translate into hundreds of changes to the company’s SAN. Ayotte said the IT department saved hundreds of man-hours on a monthly basis by moving from a manual provisioning model to the homegrown application.

Now the addition of Pathline is giving Fidelity the ability to tie available storage capacity on the SAN to specific applications and then provision the disk space for “an application instead of a server,” Ayotte said.

Switching to the packaged software has also helped the company automate tasks such as storage inventory management, SAN performance monitoring and device configuration, he added.