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First Look: Storability's GSM 4.0

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New GSM Delves Deeper into Storage

@exb

At a Glance: Storability's GSM 4.0

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What it is:
SRM software.
What it does:
Provides information about, and management of, storage resources in large enterprises.
Upside:
Continued enhancements to already strong reporting capabilities.
Downside:
When running, agents slightly degrade server performance.
New features:
Exposure analysis reports tell which servers and storage are not backed up; change management report tracks changes within storage environment.
Cost:
Based on number of managed devices; deployment costs range between $100,000 to $400,000.
Available:
Late October.
@exe Seeking to help large organizations better understand and manage their storage resources, Storability Software Inc., Southborough, MA, is adding new business analytics, administration and storage management and backup capabilities to its Global Storage Management (GSM) product.

Among the major enhancements in version 4.0--due to ship at the end of this month--are the ability to identify storage resources by application, platform or business unit; change infrastructure reports that identify firmware or driver updates that might have caused system crashes; and media tracking to help organizations get the most use out of existing tape backup cartridges.

In 4.0, Storability provides new tools to analyze the data already gathered by previous versions such as an inventory of the storage infrastructure and reports on how much storage is being used by different business units. For example, 4.0 now tells storage managers which applications are affected by the failure of a server or storage device. It also offers a new backup exposure analysis capability, which identifies any servers or databases for which no backup has been scheduled. The storage administrator must manually install the GSM agents on each server, but once installed, an "agent registration" feature transmits information without the need for intervention by an administrator. Operating the agents consume approximately 1% of CPU cycles, although greater performance hits occur during file-level scans and on the backup servers.

GSM also lets administrators create multiple logical groupings, or views, of their storage environment. While competing products also provide views, says Dan Norton, Storability's director of product management, GSM 4.0 is the only one that can provide an application-layer view of the storage environment to meet the needs of a business user, or a view which shows only the infrastructure that would be of interest to a storage administrator.

The breadth and depth of GSM's reporting tools has always been a major strength for Storability, a tradition that v. 4.0 continues, says Nancy Hurley, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. "What they've done is focus on the presentation of the report, so you can look at it and really make business decisions," she says. This is unlike some other vendors such as Veritas Software Corp., she says. GSM is more focused on reporting--and managing--the storage infrastructure such as arrays and switches than moving and managing the data in that environment.

Other improvements in version 4.0 include improved reporting on the utilization of tape drives. A "media reclamation" function identifies tapes--and their location--whose backups have expired and are reusable. For one beta customer with 10,000 backup tapes costing $60 each, GSM identified 2,000 which could be reclaimed and reused--a potential savings of $120,000.

For storage administrators who need to clearly see the link between the health of their storage and the health of their business, GSM 4.0 is worth a look.

This was first published in October 2004

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