SAN tools aim to simplify planning, management

EMC Corp. recently rolled out online, subscription-based enhancements to its ControlCenter management software that are designed to help IT staff build and monitor storage area networks.

The two new applications, AutoAdvice and Storage Area Network (SAN) Architect, can be used with the ControlCenter application or as stand-alone solutions.

The Web-based SAN Architect allows administrators to complete end-to-end SAN design, modelling and testing of their topologies, including applications, hosts, host bus adapters, switches and storage systems. Customers input their requirements into the online service and are provided with recommended configurations to make to their SAN.

The fact that the online SAN design tool is template-driven enables customers to follow “in a logical fashion from the app, to the server to the storage into the switch and then through the output,” said Pat Cassidy, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based director of open software at EMC.

He added that the tool will be helpful for enterprise customers who experience a lot of change within their SAN environments. It also reduces time that people put into modelling those changes, he said.

As an example, based on research and a pilot program using the service conducted by EMC, Cassidy said a SAN architect could save as much as 20 hours of work by using the online component.

The other service, AutoAdvice, is designed to provide automated performance monitoring for applications, servers and databases as well as providing expert advice on root cause analysis and what to do about the uncovered problems, Cassidy said.

The service collects the metrics, analyzes the customer data about current and historical application and infrastructure performance, and produces a daily performance report with advice.

“The expert advice that it delivers on the root cause analysis allows customers to more easily spot emerging [performance] trends before the trigger alerts,” Cassidy said. “They’ll know they’re running out of space before they actually have to scramble to then use an active management tool to assign new storage.”

System metrics are automatically collected for Microsoft Corp. Windows, Unix and Linux servers and operating systems; Oracle Corp. and Microsoft SQL server databases; and Exchange and SAP applications, EMC said.

Steve Kenninton, senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, said there is a demand for these services, adding that there isn’t a lot of competition within the market.

“I have been a long-time believer in trying to move support into a more proactive role whenever you can. The AutoAdvice technology allows for some technology to live over at the customer’s site and for IT to set up some parameters to be able to shoot information to EMC,” he said. “EMC has the ability to collate that information as well as pass it back to the IT person so they know what’s happening in their environment when they come into the office.”

AutoAdvice costs US$400 for a single CPU for a year, offering unlimited tiers moving up, and decreasing discounted prices as customers purchase more CPUs. Entry-level pricing for SAN Architect is US$2,400 for an annual subscription. Both services are now available.

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