Ask the Expert

Storage management with Chris Poelker - Part II

2. Why is the area of SAN management so different from other enterprise storage management functions (or is it)?

3. What are some general guidelines/suggestions for someone trying to evaluate the various SAN management software offerings currently available?

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Continued from Part I

2. Before SANs, and with the exception of mainframe storage, most enterprise storage management consisted of an application provider complaining to the datacenter operations staff that their system just crashed due to insufficient storage space. The application manager would try to delete as many un-needed files as possible and bring the server back up until the operations staff could add more disk space (if possible). Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is why SANs with their centralized pools of professionally allocated storage has been such a boon to business. No more planned downtime to add more disks, no more system crashes due to storage deficiencies. Everything is now always backed up and managed, and in some cases, even highly available or disaster tolerant. Where it used to take many operations staff with knowledge of many different OS platforms and server types, can now be done by a single SAN manager with good SAN management software. It's all about doing more with less these days.

3. Look for a software vendor who will be around awhile. Look for a vendor who can provide easy element management. Look for a vendor who is not going to lock you in. Look for a vendor that provides a scriptable interface to enable automation. Ultimately, either choose or integrate a product that provides management for all tasks listed in the answer above.

Try and choose software that can manage all the aspects of your SAN environment. Your choices today may be limited, although the near future holds great promise. I would recommend a framework approach so you can tie in your storage management with your system and network management. This will enable you to view all your system, network and storage traps/alarms from a central console. Use the software provided by the storage vendor as a "storage element" manager, and make sure your storage vendor can tie into a framework like Tivoli, Unicenter, Veritas, Open View, etc. so you can "drill down" into the vendor's array and manage it.

Chris

Editor's note: Do you agree with this expert's response? If you have more to share, post it in our Storage Networking discussion forum.

This was first published in February 2002

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