Tivoli VP talks storage

Laura Sanders, IBM/Tivoli’s newly appointed vice-president for storage software, recently spoke with Network World Senior Editor Deni Connor about how Tivoli storage offerings are positioned from IBM Corp.’s, the company’s acquisitions and where she thinks the storage arena is going. Sanders is an 18-year IBM veteran.

NW: How does IBM/Tivoli decide whether storage software is branded as an IBM or Tivoli product?

Sanders: It’s really straightforward, and unfortunately, we haven’t done a very good job of telling people about it. On the bottom layer, anything that is infrastructure software or affects how the hardware is going to operate is within IBM, so any vendor can manage it. On the Tivoli side, we are the management software and need to be able to have the same conversation with our hardware as we do with Hitachi, EMC, McData or whoever.

NW: You recently acquired a storage resource management [SRM] company called TrelliSoft. How does it fit into your storage plans?

Sanders: Tivoli renamed all its products last year. Tivoli Storage Management includes Tivoli Storage Resource Manager, which was TrelliSoft’s StorageAlert, the Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager and Tivoli Storage Manager, which includes the back-up and recovery products.

NW:Is the time and dollars you spend developing each of these groups pretty much equal?

Sanders: Backup, archive and recovery – the Tivoli Storage Manager tools – are a much more-established market [than SAN Manager and SRM]. SRM is one step beyond Storage Manager because it gives you a window into your storage that you would have loved to see five years ago, but technology wasn’t there, so that’s on the forefront. Because the markets are in such different stages, the time you spend on them is different.

For Tivoli Storage Manager, the releases are more incremental, whereas with Tivoli SRM, you can focus on where you think the market is going to go and make changes accordingly.

NW: How do you decide whether you are going to develop, partner or acquire to gain capability?

Sanders: There are a couple of different factors. The first is time to market. Based on that time to market, will the function be a differentiator or not? For example, if I need the function and it won’t be a differentiator over time, let’s partner for it. If it is going to be a differentiator, then you say, ‘How best can I buy it vs. how fast can I build it?’ Then, you have to decide how integrated into my technology it will be. With SRM, for instance, it is a separate product, which made the TrelliSoft acquisition all the better.

NW: The idea of automating storage management and moving data to appropriate storage sources seems to be a pretty exciting area.

Sanders: That is where Tivoli’s products can play well for a customer, because you can have an administrator sit down and figure out where all the data is, do snapshots and come up with a storage strategy, but you can also automate it. After all, manually managing storage is not the most exciting job in the world. We can go in with Storage Resource Manager and see a snapshot of storage or a trend that says every month I have to double my storage. We are going to make a connection between Storage Resource Manager – which lets you take a view of storage – and Storage Manager – which lets you take an action, reallocate storage or change capacity with our storage and others.