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Although part of BrightStor, SAN Designer can be purchased as a standalone product, reports Eric Pitcher, director of CA's BrightStor product management. The tool incorporates a storage knowledgebase that contains product interoperability and compatibility data from all major storage vendors and also includes Visio, a popular graphical diagramming tool.
SAN Designer and Visio enable a storage admin to connect the elements of a SAN, with SAN Designer's knowledgebase providing alerts of impending interoperability problems. "SAN Designer knows what the object is, checks the certified device list and can tell you if it will work," Pitcher explains. The product also identifies vendors, models and firmware.
Another component of SAN Designer is its automated discovery engine, which searches the storage network, reports what's connected and automatically documents its findings. A built-in set of best practices makes design and deployment recommendations, and even identifies which devices should be plugged into which ports and in which order.
Finally, the product's impact analysis capability lets storage admins simulate changes, conduct what-if analysis before implementing anything and alerts them to problems.
For Todd Pekats, a former SAN designer and now director of storage alliances at Dallas-based CompuCom Systems Inc., the biggest value of SAN Designer is the up-to-date documentation it generates. CompuCom, a CA reseller and systems integrator, uses SAN Designer when it develops SAN designs for its customers.
"The SAN is constantly changing, so any manual documentation is quickly outdated. When a problem occurs, there's always a scramble to get the right data before you can begin to fix anything," says Pekats. SAN Designer captures all changes to the SAN--devices, ports, software, firmware and switches--automatically.
When documenting a SAN, SAN Designer generates a parts list and wiring diagram. The discovery is useful when extending an existing SAN. "Most of our customers use the major vendors and common equipment. For that, the discovery works very well. If there are a lot of one-off products or old products, it might not be able to identify everything, but for us it's accurate enough," says Pekats.
SAN Designer is $2,700 per seat, with one year of maintenance and downloadable knowledgebase updates.
This was first published in February 2005