Single storage platform the goal of EMC update

EMC Corp. has launched an updated version of its ESN Manager software designed to bring storage products from third-party vendors under a single EMC management infrastructure.

This Enterprise Storage Network (ESN) Manager update is part of EMC’s wide-ranging AutoIS (automated information storage) program which was announced in the autumn of 2001 to help manage routers and switches from Brocade and McData, and hardware from vendors such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi, said Mike Stivaletti, Toronto-based area system engineer manager for EMC Canada.

“ESN Manger simplifies and automates all the complex tasks that are associated with configuring and managing SANs by centralizing the administration of these SANs. It also provides a lot of common interfaces for Fibre Channel devices and the ability to support the multi-vendor switches in those same fabrics,” Stivaletti said.

Stivaletti explained that these updates are driven by the recent release of APIs from storage vendors, which have allowed EMC to alter its WideSky middleware to control and virtualize third-party storage systems.

According to Alan Freedman, research manager, servers and workstations for IDC Canada in Toronto, easing the management of data is on the minds of many IT managers.

AutoIS and its modules like ESN Manager are all about getting better efficiency and utilization rates out of a network’s existing capacities, as well as easing the installation and implementation of new storage systems, Freedman said.

Since Export Development Canada (EDC) – a crown corporation that provides trade finance services to support Canadian exporters – began implementing a SAN about a year ago, EDC network designer Vince Rimes has been using ESN Manager.

With a mixed environment including a mainframe, some AS/400, UNIX NT and Novell’s NDS database, IT staff needed a way to harmonize the disk utilization on all of these systems, as well as back-up and recovery resources.

“Essentially what we are using ESN Manager for is programming our EMC McData switch. We download the entire configuration of the switch through ESN Manager in a GUI fashion to allow us to allocate zones and paths for our servers. We download the current view for the switch, manipulate it, add new servers and then save that configuration back to the switch,” Rimes said. “ESN Manager also downloads the disk volume information from that unit, and allows us to manipulate that in that same GUI fashion to allocate disk storage to specific ports on the SAN,” he added.

Since the alternative to using ESN Manager is to “manually hack at the switch for doing the zoning and the security pieces to allow servers to see certain ports on the SAN” – a job that would take several hours per system – Rimes said that adding disks in 15 minutes with ESN Manger is a much more attractive option.

With strong all-around support from EMC, Rimes said that his only beef to date is a lack of granularity in ESN Manger’s scripting.

“You can set up different environments for your switch but you have to send a whole new configuration to the switch instead of just making a small change. We have a disaster recovery site where we’d like to bring up (selected) parts of our infrastructure but the feedback to be able to create the groups isn’t really there,” he said.

Available now, pricing for EMC Canada’s AutoIS with updated ESN Manager varies widely depending upon network size and requirements. For more information, the company is online at