Storage titans bolster admin

With the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA)-Supported SMI (Storage Management Initiative) near completion and with vendor support anticipated for next year, SRM (Storage Resource Management) vendors are working to differentiate their offerings with a number of features aimed at easing SAN management.

On Monday, Computer Associates International Inc.will release a portal designed for managing multivendor storage devices, elements, and applications. BrightStor Portal is similar to the competition in that it is designed to help enterprises manage a multivendor SAN and its associated applications from a single console, but unlike its competitors, the CA console is Web-based.

CA’s BrightStor Portal arrives on the heels of announcements made last week by EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Veritas Software Corp. about their respective SRM wares.

Bill North, director of storage software research at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the market for SRM software is growing in line with the proliferation of SANs. “Storage networking has moved from the back room to the mainstream,” North said. He added that storage management costs are up due to the complexity of SANs that are now comprised of hundreds of devices.

“In the future, vendors will write to SMIs,” said Mike Peterson, president of New York-based Strategic Research, and added that SMI will help users, albeit indirectly, because vendors will spend less time reverse-engineering competitors’ APIs and drivers, thereby freeing them to spend more time on innovation.

Despite the efforts of these vendors, the relative newness of SAN technology is posing problems for some users, who are finding that storage vendors deliver capable software but that there are loose definitions as to how management applications should best be used. In addition, squabbles among vendors have slowed the pace interoperability efforts, which means users must do a lot of dirty work to build a SAN.

“We would really like to see some kind of standard, cookie-cutter way of deploying and managing storage,” said Laurence Whittaker, supervisor of enterprise storage management at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto. “I don’t think these best practices will come from the vendor community; I think they will come from user groups.”

For instance, Veritas last week detailed its SRM product, SANPoint Control 3. “We are now expanding our product up into the application layer,” said Jonathan Martin, a director of product management at Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas, adding that it manages storage resources for an Oracle table space or Microsoft Exchange mailbox.

EMC, for its part, claimed its SRM product, ControlCenter, can now do end-to-end storage provisioning automatically with the addition of a technology dubbed ARM (Automated Resource Manager). An EMC official explained that the company’s ARM component can automatically do what previously took between 30 and 60 manual steps.

Such automation, in fact, is the vision of HP, CA, and Veritas. Each mentioned the idea of a policy-based engine that permits automation. For instance, HP introduced a policy-based engine last week with its OpenView Storage Area Manager 3.0.

Ashlee Vance, a San Francisco-based correspondent at IDG News Service, contributed to this article.

Vendors embrace SRM

New releases take aim at managing multivendor SANs.

— CA’s BrightStor Portal enables Web-based management of multivendor SANs.

— EMC’s ARM allows for automatic provisioning of EMC hardware; third-party support is under construction.

— Veritas’ SANPoint Control 3.0 adds Oracle and Microsoft Exchange support.

— HP’s policy-based engine, Active Intelligent Management, makes apps aware of storage.

— CreekPath’s AIM Suite 2.0 features a policy-based engine.