SANavigator puts SANs in perspective

As SANs grow over time, with switches and servers added haphazardly to the array, they can become quite difficult to track and manage. McData Corp.’s SANavigator 3.5.1 brings order to complexity and enables the SAN administrator to monitor and manage large numbers of devices.

Similar to OpenView in the LAN space, SANavigator provides an overall look at the SAN. Features include drill-down views of individual devices, asset-management functions, report creation, e-mail alert capabilities, and script responses to failures or overloads.

With its nicely evolved interface, loads of supported hardware from other vendors, functionality alerts, and reporting and scripting tools, SANavigator demonstrates a great deal of maturity compared to products such as EMC Corp.’s Control Center, Veritas Software Corp.’s SANPoint, and QLogic Corp.’s SANsurfer. The autodiscover and policy engine tools will be welcome additions for many administrators with large, complex, multivendorSANs.

On the downside, integrating the management tools for HBAs (host bus adapters), switches, storage, tape devices, and backup software takes some effort. However, the end result is a single, integrated platform that can manage and monitor all aspects of the SAN.

SANavigator consists of a server that performs data collection and other functions such as running scripts and monitoring SAN and device performance. One or more clients can view the data and provide a user interface to the server.

For our test, we logged in to a server in McData’s lab, which provided an interesting and complex SAN to view, monitor, and manage. Remote access can be controlled by user name and password and restricted by TCP/IP address as well. The client software logs into the local server via a secure channel instead of a Web browser.

Autodiscovery is one of the most powerful tools available in SANavigator. In-band discovery polls all the devices on the SAN and reports as much information as the driver supports, including LUN (logical unit number), capacity, port number, and so forth. Out-of-band discovery can be performed by IP address or by IP subnet, making it easier to search for IP-enabled devices.

Within seconds after the autodiscovery process, SANavigator generates a visual map of your SAN. Once the device information has been accumulated, it can be exported to MySQL and IBM DB2 database formats for asset management functions.

Put your SAN on the map

The map of the SAN shows the status of all the devices on the network. Administrators can use the map to manage the SAN; plan additions; set alerts on errors, breakdowns, or throughput exceeding preset limits; and create regular reports and logs.

Reports, which can be generated in HTML format, include asset information such as serial numbers or port counts, as well as status information such as average traffic through a device.

Hovering over a given device on the map displays some of the details on the device, whereas right-clicking gives access to full information, management utilities, and more. The topology of the maps can be changed to show the map in several different layouts, including vertical, horizontal, and one that shows the logical topology with the units with the most connections at the center, and the least connected further out.

The Device Tree shows all the devices in the SAN. It can be sorted by device and group, devices only, or ports only, and can sort on the twenty or so columns of information, including port name, device type, IP address, status (online or offline), and many others.

The Event Log lists all the events in the SAN, including SNMP trap events, user actions, performance changes, device state changes, and communication errors. It can be filtered to provide a specific view on only certain types of messages or certain devices in the SAN.

Administrators can customize the main window to display only the data they need. They also can create views that display only certain fabrics or Device Tree columns; view different levels of detail on the Physical Map or Device Tree; or change the Physical Map’s background color.

Simplified SANagement

SANavigator’s capability of managing devices in the SAN depends on the driver support and tools available. By itself, it can manage McData switches and storage units and can integrate with the management utilities from many other vendors. For instance, LUN management and port binding in storage units is supported with EMC CLARiiON 4700 and IBM Enterprise Storage Servers, although other servers with standalone utilities could also be integrated into the SANavigator interface.

As with other management applications, administrators can launch other vendors’ tools from within SANavigator. Those might include HBA configuration tools or other management applications for which McData supplies connectors. Setting up tools is straightforward, and they can be associated with the appropriate devices. For example, an HBA configuration tool can be launched by opening the icon for the HBA.

In addition to monitoring events, SANavigator can forward SNMP traps to other systems or management platforms, using any event that is logged to trigger a trap that will be forwarded to the other system. Events can also trigger e-mail alerts. The Policy Engine, a separate module, offers the ability to send e-mails and execute scripts on alarms or when set points are reached. This could include moving storage from one zone to another or similar functions.

SANavigator provides a fine-grained user structure that permits granting rights to specific sets of tasks. Users or groups can be allowed only to view or to administer specific kinds of devices. Filters can be set up so that specific users or groups receive specific kinds of alerts as well, so that one group might get HBA alarms for the servers they are responsible for, while another group would get the alerts for the associated storage units.

SANavigator also offers planning tools to diagram new SAN topologies, forecast loads, and simulate actual use. Administrators can start with an existing SAN and modify it, or start from scratch. In addition to the diagramming tools, the planning tool can check for valid port names, IP addresses, and other configuration information, and it checks to ensure that link capacities match and that media types are compatible.

Any SAN administrator overseeing a SAN with more than 100 devices should consider SANavigator to unify management and monitoring functions into a single platform. It is a powerful tool for managing SANs and integrating the SAN management tools that come with the various devices into a single, coherent interface.

High price tag Time-intensive integration with other necessary applications

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