The ability to discover and monitor databases should be considered a mandatory SRM feature. Database integration lets administrators identify the activity of data within databases and its access frequency. This information can be used to determine the type and amount of disk an application needs. Users may also discover that table spaces within a database were allocated large amounts of disk that were never used, or that dormant or rarely accessed data can be moved to a lower-cost disk.
Several SRM vendors integrate their suites with e-mail and backup apps. With compliance such a hot issue, integrating with mail products such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange, and backup products such as EMC's Legato NetWorker, IBM Corp.'s Tivoli Storage Manager and Veritas Software Corp.'s NetBackup, is paramount. E-mail integration lets administrators set policies that identify aging messages and move them to cheaper disk or tape. Similarly, integration with backup software lets admins monitor and execute backup jobs, and receive individual and global reports on tape capacities.
The degree of visibility into Exchange databases varies. Tek-Tools Inc.'s Profiler's Exchange reports are typical for products offering e-mail integration. Profiler tracks the number of messages received and sent per user, mailbox size and detailed information about e-mail attachments. Early next year, Tek-Tools will add the ability to move, archive and delete e-mails.
Other products, including those from AppIQ, CA, EMC and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which OEMs AppIQ's SRM products, let administrators see the data path from the Exchange server through the SAN and down to the actual disk spindle on which the database resides. CA also lets users perform trend analysis and forecasting to project the future growth of e-mail databases. EMC's ControlCenter 5.2.1 with the File Level Reporter option lets administrators stage, move, copy, delete or compress Exchange data, while AppIQ StorageAuthority for Exchange and its OEM analogue Hitachi HiCommand QoS for Microsoft Exchange monitor e-mail queue sizes for messages needing to be routed, received, sent or awaiting directory lookup.
SRM products have also added backup monitoring. EMC's ControlCenter monitors the number of backup/restore jobs, checks whether backups succeeded, tracks which files were missed, and lets users set policies to back up missed files. Tek-Tool's Profiler Rx for backups allows chargebacks based on tape usage. CA and Softek use the data they gather to define backup policies that optimize data placement, automating the movement of data from disk to tape to help users start an ILM-type process.
Many suites provide performance management tools to pinpoint SAN performance problems. Generally, the best place to gather performance statistics is at the server or host, then at the storage array and finally at the network level. Because the server usually handles the majority of operations that could impact performance, consider tools such as Softek's Performance Tuner and EMC's Performance Manager for collecting server stats such as I/O wait times and activity on specific block devices.
Array vendors generally provide the best SRM tools to manage their own arrays, but for users with heterogeneous storage environments, look to SRM array options from AppIQ, CA, CreekPath, Tek-Tools or Veritas.
On the security front, administrators generally want the user logins of the SRM suite to integrate with their existing Windows Active Directory or Windows Domain. This simplifies the creation and management of user accounts that manage the SRM suite.
Redefining SRM ... again
ILM may eventually find its way into the broader definition of SRM. Administrators who are better versed in capacity, content and performance management are starting to get a handle on their data, and SRM products may eventually manage the ILM process.
SRM suites are maturing, but users shouldn't assume any vendor's shrink-wrapped suite will work off the shelf. But once successfully installed, users will see that SRM suites can deliver long-promised functionality.
This was first published in December 2004