Q

Interoperability is key: Vendors better be listening

If we plan SAN implementation and storage consolidation (planning to purchase new storage arrays), would it fix the problem of having multiple administrations? Would software virtualization implementation be the answer? Is it a mature technology?

Since you already have intelligent storage arrays in the XP512 and the EMC arrays, you should migrate the DAS storage to those intelligent arrays. Fill up the intelligent arrays with more disk and copy the data over.

Storage virtualization appliances can be used in the data path between the hosts and the storage arrays that would give you a single console to manage all your storage. If using an in-band appliance does not appeal to you, you can always purchase a cross-platform storage management software package such as Intersan, Veritas, CreekPath, Computer Associates, etc.

There have been great strides lately in the ability of storage management applications to provide adequate provisioning of data from different vendors storage solutions. The SNIA (Storage Network Industry Association) is pushing through standards for storage management through CIM (common information model) compliant software through its SMI initiative (used to be called Bluefin).

Let's face it, the real problem with having storage from multiple vendors is that managing each device requires learning each vendor's management software. When you can pool all your storage into a multi-tier SAN and allocate data to a storage array that matches the SLA requirements of your data, you get the best of what a SAN can offer. This requires the ability of your storage management solution to not only provision storage from multiple vendors but to also handle error notification from EVERY device in the SAN. Which includes the switches and any SAN extenders also!

Believe me, the vendors are getting the message loud and clear. Customers want a choice and do not want to be locked in to a single vendor. They want to provision non-essential applications on cheap storage and use enterprise class arrays for mission critical data. If you can manage both from a single application and get all the automation and reporting you need, the real benefit of storage centralization and consolidation by using SAN technology starts to make business sense.

Chris

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This was first published in May 2003

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