IBM Spearheads Open-Source Storage Group
Author: Ed Scannell
An IBM-led group of vendors on Tuesday announced the formation of an open-source community that will attempt to create a common but more flexible storage software-management platform.
Operating under the working name of Aperi, the group aims to offer users and partners more options for deploying open-standards-based storage-infrastructure software. Founding members of the group include Brocade Communications Systems, Computer Associates International, Fujitsu, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems.
SMI-S Slogs Along
Author: Mary Jander
Much has been made of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) -- at least, by vendors with SNIA-certified implementations (see Playing Nice, the Standards Way). But these same vendors are taking varying amounts of time -- some, it appears, quite a lot of time -- getting products to market.
As the industry-approved management protocol for multivendor storage networks, SMI-S could theoretically make life easier for nearly anyone with a SAN. The specs let management programs interact with SAN devices from any vendor, as long as gear is equipped with an SMI-S agent.
At least that's the plan. To take advantage of SMI-S calls for software hooks to be created for specific devices that provide a view into their inner workings, opening them up for monitoring, configuring, and other supervisory functions. Together, these hooks comprise SMI-S agents, or clients. APIs (application programming interfaces) also are required to make these agents available to management applications. The apps in turn need APIs to get their virtual hands on the devices and make the whole process work.
Vendors pass the SMI-S test
Author: Rich Friedman
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced at the Storage Networking World trade show here that more than 100 products from 14 companies have passed the SNIA Conformance Testing Program (SNIA-CTP) for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S version 1.02).
SMI-S unifies SAN management
Author: Tony Dicenzo
Storage management is taking a major step forward with completion of the first version of the Storage Networking Industry Association's Storage Management Initiative Specification.
Until now, network managers looking after multivendor storage-area networks (SAN) have required a range of independent management applications, developed by a number of different vendors and tied to multiple hardware management APIs, to keep their systems running effectively. SMI-S is the first step in SNIA's effort to ensure that all storage systems will work together.
A New Standard for Fabric Intelligence
Author: Tom Clark
While the storage industry continues to debate the issue of where advanced storage services should reside, vendors of fabric switches and virtualization software are standardizing application interfaces for network-based storage applications. A project of the ANSI/INCITS T11.5 task group, the Fabric Application Interface Standard (FAIS) is a multi-vendor initiative that is defining new and more intimate relationships between the network infrastructure and storage applications.
FAIS will facilitate the migration of storage virtualization and other enhanced services from edge devices such as hosts and storage arrays to the network core. In combination with parallel efforts to enhance fabric-based quality of service and security services, the FAIS initiative represents a major step in the development of SAN technology as it evolves from simple connectivity to intelligence.
SNIA Charts SMI-S Progress
Author: Byte and Switch
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) today presented new progress on the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) with the expanded SMI-Lab3 Developers' Demonstration at the Fall Storage Networking World (SNW) conference. Advanced testing and monitoring, coupled with new vendor participation and support, have propelled the SMI-S into a new phase, bringing standardized multi-vendor storage management closer to availability.
Integration : The key to making sense of the the bewildering amount of storage management products offered today is knowing what you need and ignoring the rest
Author: Stephen Foskett
If I had a nickel for every storage management software product, I could buy lunch. That's because the last time I counted, there were 114 software products from 30 vendors--all claiming to help you manage your storage. And this doesn't count products in development, waiting to be rescued from bankrupt vendors or products I overlooked.
To make this situation worse, these products are often described using the same confusing terms, and claim the same benefits. Storage resource management (SRM) products usually analyze the contents of host storage (the number, type and attributes of files), but not always. Each suite has its own set of functions, but many don't even offer SRM functionality.
There are some big gaps in the market, too. While more than a dozen packages offer accounting, device management and SAN management functionality, fewer than five offer SAN design, process management or asset management. None offer configuration management specifically targeted toward storage environments.
And even where similar functionality is claimed in multiple packages, their level of success may be different. Many products offer sterling functionality in one area, but lack in others. It's too bad that storage management software is usually assessed individually, instead of being compared to other packages. In many cases, software packages are purchased arbitrarily--based on a sales rep's suggestions, media coverage or advertising. Buying in this manner leads to hit or miss coverage of business needs.
SMI-S: What's in it for storage managers?
Author: Robert L. Scheier
By the end of this year, you may be using "Bluefin" -- whether you know it or not.
Bluefin -- officially known as the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) -- is a set of interfaces designed to make it easier for storage hardware and management software from different vendors to work together.
For storage managers, this means the ability to map logical unit numbers (LUNs) of storage. It also means the ability to reassign storage volumes to different applications and monitor the performance of storage and tape arrays from different vendors using both common management tools and a common set of storage management skills.
SMI-S successor to Bluefin on fast track
Author: Robert L. Scheier
In conference rooms and product laboratories around the world, a volunteer army is struggling to do what has never been done before: get vendors to agree on a vital common technology specification without the help of a traditional standards body.
The specification is the Storage Management Interface Specification (SMI-S), a set of common models and protocols that will allow storage management tools to communicate with and manage storage devices from any manufacturer. For customers, this will mean lower management costs and fewer headaches because a single software console will allow them to manage more storage devices.
It's good news for vendors, too, because once their products are SMI-S compliant, they won't have to negotiate and implement expensive technology swaps to ensure compatibility with products from their competitors.
This spring, the Storage Networking Industry Association published Version 1.0 of SMI-S, opening the door to public comment and testing of the interfaces described by the specification, and the products that aim to comply with it. Major vendors have announced (or are shipping) SMI-S compliant products, while hardware and software developers are being trained in the 350-page specification.
A realistic approach to automating storage management
Author: Tad Lebeck
Many analyst/consulting firms have dubbed storage automation as the "next big thing" in storage management. For instance, the Enterprise Storage Group ("storage process automation"), the Yankee Group ("storage automation"), and Strategic Research ("storage operations management") have all weighed in with comprehensive reports on the subject.
Yet in a survey of 192 IT managers and executives, conducted by TheInfoPro (www.TheInfoPro.net), automated storage provisioning, for example, ranked very low on the priority scale at both Fortune 50 companies and small to medium-sized enterprises (see charts). It's clear that IT managers are wary of the hype surrounding "emerging" technologies.
While you should be wary of vendor hype (claims of more than 200% improvement in storage utilization simply lack credibility), you can realize significant benefits from automating storage operations. These accrue as automation is incrementally applied to achieve policy compliance and operational efficiency. Storage automation can enable you to approach storage overhead thresholds common in mainframe environments, which are on average between 15% and 20%.
End users demand better management tools
Author: Dave Simpson
If you're like the majority of your colleagues, you're dissatisfied with the storage management tools that vendors are providing, at least for storage area network (SAN) environments. In an extensive survey of IT managers conducted by TheInfoPro, a whopping 54% cited better management tools as the number-one capability that they need from vendors. And management tools also ranked number one (45% of the respondents) among the "pain points" that will drive spending over the next 12 to 18 months.
Putting together the pieces of SAN management software
Author: Richard R. Lee and Harriett L. Bennett
To ease the complexity of managing heterogeneous storage networks, vendors are moving toward standards such as SMI-S.
This past year has seen major changes in the landscape of what is referred to as either the storage area management (SAM) or SAN management software segment of the storage market. Whatever your terminology preference, this critical segment of the fabric-attached storage (FAS) market has become the key focal point for many start-ups, as well as for all of the established players in the industry.
The SAN Management Dilemma
Author: Tom Clark
Since the advent of SANs, customers have complained that storage area networks are difficult to manage. Along with interoperability issues, the lack of comprehensive and robust SAN management has inhibited the widespread adoption of SANs by the IT market. And although progress has been made on the interoperability front, SAN management itself seems to be stuck under constant construction. The Storage Management Initiative (SMI) of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is the first industry-sponsored, multi-vendor effort to create a solid foundation for storage management across multiple transports and applications.
Leveraging the Common Information Model (CIM) framework, SMI will enable both hardware and software vendors to engineer SAN management solutions to a common standard, thus providing greater interoperability and simplifying the customer's management tasks. SMI, however, is not a panacea for all ills associated with implementing and supporting SANs. The problem with SAN management is not so much that it has yet to be mastered, but rather that the scope of SANs is too broad and complex to be contained within a single management framework.
Combining storage and networking into a SAN creates new capabilities that are far more diverse than the sum of its parts. Traditional network management, for example, focuses on data transport between source and destination. Address assignment, device configuration, bandwidth allocation, routing protocols, traffic monitoring, and historical reporting for capacity planning may be incorporated into a network management application to ensure proper data transport through a network infrastructure. Conventional storage management may center on allocation of storage resources via LUN assignment, RAID levels, storage utilization, and backup scheduling.
Storage management standards become a reality
Author: Kevin Komiega
Regardless of which abbreviation you associate with an open storage management standard -- CIM, WBEM, SMI-S -- brace yourself. It's here.
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), an industry organization that helps educate users and guides the industry toward collaboration on networked storage issues, announced Tuesday at the Storage Networking World 2003 conference that the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) has been released for public review.
SNIA Unveils "Bluefin" Storage Management Spec
Author: Clint Boulton
The long-awaited, much-tinkered-with specification for ensuring easier management in disparate storage hardware and software was released to the public Tuesday by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).
Introduced was version one of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S Version 1.0), which was called Bluefin for more than a year while it was undergoing rigorous testing and development by such industry stalwarts as IBM, HP and EMC.
SMI-S backers hope to use the open standard API to eventually integrate large, diverse multi-vendor storage networks to create more opportunities in the multi-billion-dollar storage networking market.
Is storage management software worth it?
Author: Alan Radding
Last year, an IT manager at a large manufacturing company went through the RFP process to find software to manage several hundred terabytes of mainframe and open systems storage. The winner was management software kingpin BMC.
The company's Patrol Storage Manager (PSM) had reaped praise for its innovative application-centric approach. Even after a tough negotiation where the price dropped by nearly a third, BMC walked away with a $2 million deal for PSM and related products. But in February 2003, BMC pulled the plug on PSM, leaving PSM customers with no roadmap for distributed storage management.
Open management is coming
Author: Melissa Marcum
Vendors are corralling support for the Storage Management Interface Specification, but will this attempt at openness pass user muster?
Imagine running the latest version of EMC's Enterprise Control Center Open Edition to migrate data from a midrange HP StorageWorks array to an IBM Shark. Or being able to set up replication from a Web browser between a Hitachi Lighting and an EMC Symmetrix. Sounds far-fetched and years away from reality. But the first open storage management standard that will make this possible - at least in theory - is just around the corner.
Storage Resource Management Market Overview and Vendor Assessment
Author: Stephen Widen and Sal Capizzi
In this report, KAP Research provides a strategic overview of the storage management market, a discussion on the business issues and trends as well as recent storage trends. The report provides a focus on a select set of vendors that provide storage resource management (SRM) solutions. As part of the assessment of the vendors and their SRM solution, the report includes a detailed matrix of what it has determined to be the major elements required in an SRM solution. KAP Research conducted the assessment based on discussions and reviews of matrix elements with all the vendors discussed in this report.
In the past, the type of data that was created and accessed within the enterprise, whether it was files or block, in part determined some of the storage and storage infrastructure purchase decisions. For example, NAS was generally good for file sharing and a fibre channel SAN was better suited for storing and accessing block storage. Typically, individual departments were responsible for these storage purchase decisions without regard for what else was being implemented corporate wide. As a result, many organizations today not only have a mixture of NAS and SAN storage but a mixture of storage vendors as well.
The early role of storage management was to help solve the issues of managing different vendors hardware and different data types but could not satisfactorily solve this problem. The role of emerging storage hardware and software standards can eventually help solve this, but is still a few years away from actual implementation. However, customers have problems today that need to be solved and as a result, in many cases vendor-specific solutions will still prevail in the short-term. Through the actions of many vendors in the industry, the swapping of vendor APIs is beginning to address part of this problem of managing heterogeneous storage environments.
Open SAN Architecture Management
Author: John Vaca
In the past, companies kept pace with the enormous rate of storage growth management and infrastructure complexity by simply adding more capacity. Recently, though, as budgets have been reduced, IT managers have been asked to defer purchases and do more with fewer resources. At the same time, despite these constraints on IT resources, ever-higher levels of services are in demand and increasingly shorter backup and restore windows are needed, as application availability remains a top priority for companies. All of this is occurring even as the amount of data requiring backup continues to grow ever larger.
Advanced Storage Area Networks (SANs) provide one of the best approaches for addressing the explosion of data and its management. SANs help enable storage consolidation and deliver higher availability of critical enterprise data and applications. Furthermore, SANs facilitate improved storage resource utilization and more effective storage management.
Flexible SAN Management Through Zoning
Author: John Vaca
Hubs based on private, arbitrated loops were used to build early SANs. Although these early SANs had a theoretical maximum of 126 devices, the realistic maximum was much lower. Additionally, with many devices sharing a loop, performance often varied and troubleshooting was difficult at best.
With the introduction of the fully public switch, SAN fabrics can theoretically contain over 7.7 million nodes, and thanks to newer switch features -- particularly zoning -- creating and managing these large SANs is now easier than ever before. Best of all, full fabric-based switches allow storage managers to maximize the effectiveness of currently installed private loop devices.
Measuring Critical SAN Management ROI
Author: John Vaca
Most data and storage area network (SAN) management solutions today are piecemeal, partial solutions to an increasingly complex problem. Compatibility problems persist and clear management standards have not emerged. The result is an array of point products from multiple vendors, some of which do not work well by themselves and most of which do not work well together. Managed storage networks go beyond the benefits of simple storage area networks (SANs), storage consolidation, and centralized management. They are dynamic SANs that provide intelligent, automatic, and proactive management capabilities.
Implementing a dynamic SAN without powerful storage management software is like taking two steps backward to go three steps forward. SANs, or fabric-attached storage, hold the promise of bringing significant business benefits to any enterprise, and, like any other paradigm shift in technology, they require a substantial financial investment in the process. It is intuitive to most information technology (IT) professionals that SANs have the potential to alleviate many of the storage-related problems that plague today's IT enterprises, including:
The Return on Investment (ROI) can be quite compelling, and true enterprise benefits can be realized almost immediately when a SAN is designed to address these issues. This is why today's IT decision makers must base their SAN strategies not on a solution's technical merits but instead on its ability to deliver a positive and compelling ROI. With the preceding in mind, this article provides a high-level overview of the factors of ROI for SAN software and how the ROI may be predicted and analyzed.
Storage Lifecycle Management
Author: Tom Cromelin
Storage is an unavoidable expense for every organization. Experience has shown, however that viewing storage implementation and usage as a life cycle can reduce deployment costs significantly. Current approaches view storage management as a collection of stand-alone steps with point solutions focused on each step that capture and store their information as individual tasks.
The failure to connect these processes and share this information is one of the most expensive aspects of storage management.
Storage life cycle management is a uniquely efficient approach to storage management that removes the boundaries between the disparate processes and combines them into a continuous life cycle with information being passed automatically from process to process without manual re-entry.
Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA), with 26 years of experience in integrating disparate hardware and software for the enterprise, is now extending the BrightStor™ family of storage solutions to eliminate the boundaries between the phases in the storage life cycle.
This paper defines the life cycle and the process boundaries, and sheds light on how the process always should have been and how it can be done with the BrightStor family of solutions today.
The Storage Efficiency Balancing Act
On a daily basis, storage administrators face a seemingly impossible balancing act: provide end users with uninterrupted access to data, while reducing costs. They are also expected to handle the proliferation of storage, while simultaneously increasing efficiencies and decreasing end user downtime. The reality is that neither of these scenarios is working. Instead, IT departments are being forced to make difficult trade-offs that are not helping their organizations achieve what they really want: maximum return on investment (ROI) from their storage solutions.
A major constraint to maximizing storage efficiency is the requirement for end user data availability. Improving storage efficiency through proactive storage management, such as capacity management, load balancing, data consolidation, and data migration, results in end-user and application downtime. This is not acceptable in today’s 24x7 world, which demands non-stop data availability.
According to Contingency Planning Research, the average cost of downtime across industries is $80,000 per hour. As the need for uninterrupted data access continues to grow, storage administrators are forced to continuously make difficult trade-offs between storage efficiency and end-user availability.
Virtualizing San Management
Author: John Vaca
Enterprises are continually seeking out cost-effective ways to manage the virtual explosion of information created by e-business and other initiatives. They are turning to Storage Area Networks (SANs) in droves to help solve this massive information explosion problem.
Architectures for Storage Consolidation
Storage consolidation addresses the fundamental problem IT managers face today—managing exponential storage growth with lower IT budgets. Consolidation brings a more efficient approach to storage deployment and management through rationalizing storage resources, increasing capacity utilization, and centralizing storage management. Cost savings are realized by maximizing asset and staff utilization while reducing operating expenses. Service levels can be improved through predictable performance, prioritization of service, and high availability. Rapid access to customer data and greater collaboration across the organization reduces time to market and improves business flexibility.
Storage consolidation is not a one-time event, but a continuous journey—a journey that does not start, or end, at the same place for every organization. Stages of the journey can be undertaken as business requirements change over time.
Storage consolidation is also about implementing an adaptive storage infrastructure. An infrastructure that is simple, standard, modular, and integrated.
Common storage architectures have been developed to achieve storage consolidation benefits. Each of these architectures delivers different business benefits suitable for different stages of the consolidation journey.
This paper maps out the consolidation journey, stage by stage. It explores the elements of an adaptive infrastructure, and it ties the business benefits that can be achieved by implementing each of the common storage architectures to real steps that any organization can take.
An alternative to host/array-based volume management
Author: Nik Simpson
Virtualization can provide better capacity utilization, while reducing management headaches and costs.
Automated Network Storage Drives Simplicity and Business Value
Author: Sean Derrington
IT organizations (ITOs) increasingly view storage as a strategic differentiator for existing and new applications. Many ITOs recognize the critical role information plays in the business, and leveraging that information requires an unassailable storage infrastructure foundation.
An Essential Guide to Storage Area Networking, as a Component of Business Continuation
Author: Mark Steinberg
According to a recent survey of top IT managers, business continuity is a major concern this year. Why? Information is now most businesses’ primary asset. Historically, data storage was a local issue, either on floppy discs or hard drives. Things are more complicated today, especially after September 11. Companies are more concerned than ever about storage and business continuation in the event of catastrophes—large or small. This article provides a high-level overview of the concepts of storage area networking and business continuity, including the often-confusing terms associated with the industry. It concludes with a concise look at the storage marketplace and a plan for survival.
The Journey to Policy-Based SAN Management
Author: Michael Buchheim
Through 2004, Fibre Channel (FC)-based storage-area network (SAN) deployments with SAN management tools will coexist with maturing IP-based SAN deployments (initially between FC-based SANs/switches). By 2006/07, 10GB+ IP will be the standard SAN backbone--with IP-based router technologies replacing FC switches, and SAN management subsumed within network management tools/suites.
Backup Planning with Sun StorEdge Resource Management Suite Software
Author: Sun Microsystems
Industry reports continuously cite the billions of dollars that U.S. firms spend yearly due to significant data loss and the millions of business days each year they must devote to recreating lost data. Many of these same companies have no formal policy describing how or how often data should be backed up to best protect corporate information. In fact, corporate data protection practices are most often implemented only after a disaster occurs and large amounts of data have been either damaged or lost. Even more distressing are the companies that have policies in place, but do not enforce the safeguards.
According to researchers, by 2003 the average company will store ten-fold increases over today's storage needs (see Table 1). This fact is supported in part by the way businesses increasingly leverage the Internet, generating enormous amounts of critical business data on a daily basis that needs to be stored, protected, and managed. While business models change, data amounts increase, and the availability of information becomes the competitive advantage, IT managers will be offered an overabundance of data management products to satisfy their voracious appetites for enterprise storage.
Network backup strategies have progressed from isolated islands of storage and responsibility to environments where storage and control have transformed into centrally managed functions. As businesses increase the amount of information they generate and store, having an effective data backup/restore solution is a core element of the storage strategy for any enterprise. Backup is becoming a much more complex issue as IT professionals deal with:
Restoring SANity - An Examination of SAN Management Software Caterories
Author: Steven J. Schuchart Jr.
In the wild and woolly world of technology, there are trade-offs, usually involving the strength of any given system versus its ease of use--yin and yang, if you will. You have ease of use, but with limited flexibility. Or you have a system that is complex and time-consuming to use, but flexible. When it comes to SANs (storage area networks), the latter is the case.
Easing the migration from DAS to SAN
Author: Nik Simpson
An efficient and inexpensive method of making the transition from direct-attached storage to a storage area network relies on host-based mirroring and storage virtualization
Centralized management for mixed storage resources: It's a great idea, but the tools aren't up to the job
Author: Alan Radding
As demand for storage at many companies doubles or grows even more each year, IT managers may find it easier to add more storage than to better manage the amount they already have. But ineffective management means they buy more storage than they need, driving up administrative costs and increasing storage problems.
Measuring the HBA's Role in SAN Management
Author: Eric Sheppard
Organizations are increasingly turning to storage area networks (SANs) to cost-effectively manage the explosive growth in data storage. Worldwide sales of SAN-attached disk array more than doubled between 1998 and 2000, and IDC forecasts that sales will continue to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4% through 2005.
Because SANs are almost always designed with future scaling in mind, IDC believes that component selection should be considered a crucial part of SAN planning and deployment. IDC further believes that choosing the correct components can help reduce the long-term costs of a SAN.
One important SAN component is the host bus adapter (HBA), which provides the host/server with access to the SAN and offloads block-level storage I/O processing from the host’s CPU. To determine the benefits of employing different HBAs in SANs, IDC conducted random interviews of organizations that have deployed SANs using either Emulex or other models as the primary HBA. The survey included questions about the SAN implementation costs and the amount of time required to perform various activities involved with SAN operation and management.
Many factors contribute to implementation and management costs in a SAN, including the size of the installation (e.g., number of nodes and amount of capacity), type of SAN (e.g., arbitrated loop versus fabric services), the primary type of server and storage array, and the criticality of the applications using the SAN. However, the survey results did reveal differences in implementation and management costs for the SANs in which Emulex was the primary brand of HBA versus those whose primary HBA was another brand. We were also able to find differences in IT productivity and efficiency and in both planned and unplanned downtime.
For the companies surveyed, IDC found that Emulex-supported environments were available 49.2 hours more per year than those supported by non-Emulex HBAs. With each hour of application availability supporting an average revenue of $62,051 (based on survey results), these additional hours of availability translate to an additional $3.05 million in revenue-generation opportunity.
Network Based Storage Management - Security
Author: Gerald P. Ryan
In this decade, corporate-wide computing environments are being connected together and used by the enterprise to deploy a new wave of mission-critical applications. This, combined with expanding use of the Internet, has generated an explosive growth in the amount of corporate data that must be managed. In most cases, this combining of isolated sites into a unified Corporate Network, has produced a crisis for the Network Administrator. Each formerly isolated system had its own unique method for backup and restoration, making the integration of backup and restoration functionality exceedingly complex. Many systems, based on UNIX, NT, etc. still retain their separation and incompatibility making corporate-wide backup and restoration very difficult. This is particularly true for the new generation of networked clientserver systems in which traditional backup and restoration concepts are either unknown or ignored. Networked Based Storage Management (NBSM) solutions are being deployed which promise to unify the Network Administration problem, thus permitting the network to gracefully evolve and scale to global proportions, while providing a core of storage management competencies including high data availability, uniform management, and heterogeneous platform inclusion. This paper examines the nature of this new breed of network-based storage management software offerings.
Comprehensive List of Storage Management Software Vendors
Date: Updated Periodically