EMC releases upgraded ControlCenter

EMC Corp. Monday announced the latest version of its flagship storage management software, which it said offers “more complete support” for competing products such as arrays from Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and IBM Corp., as well as Linux servers.

Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC said Version 5.2 of the ControlCenter software is also the first release that’s compliant with the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), a set of protocols designed to let storage management tools interoperate with hardware devices from different vendors.

Although ControlCenter 5.2 can’t automatically grow or shrink storage for business applications on non-EMC arrays, it can perform so-called storage resource management functions, such as automatic discovery of hardware and monitoring of its health and utilization. The software can also follow the performance and report on HDS arrays and Linux hosts, EMC said.

Dennis Hoffman, vice-president of product marketing for EMC’s software products, said the upgrade “fills out” ControlCenter’s ability to troubleshoot multivendor storage-area networks. EMC already supported Hitachi’s 9500V midrange arrays and HP’s StorageWorks XP512 and XP1024 devices. Now, it has added management support for HP’s XP48 array — a scaled-down version of the XP512 — and Hitachi’s high-end 9900V product line, plus storage switches from Cisco Systems Inc.

Tony Asaro, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said the most impressive addition to ControlCenter is a wizard-driven installation process. During an upgrade test of Version 5.2 in the company’s test lab, “our back-up administrator, with no previous ControlCenter experience, performed the initial installation on two ControlCenter infrastructure servers in less than an hour,” Asaro said.

By comparison, the last upgrade of ControlCenter on 35 hosts required “lots of user intervention over three days,” he said. “We saw a vast improvement in terms of agent deployment and how long it takes.”

Barry Ader, director of software product marketing at EMC, said the interoperability with the HDS, IBM and HP hardware is based on application programming interfaces and not SMI-S. “We’d love for the SMI standard to evolve to the point…where we can do performance reporting across an entire set of arrays,” he said.

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