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SRM Products

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Inside SRM
Most major SRM products include the following:
  • Support for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) standard
  • Reporting on different databases, file systems and NAS filers
  • Integration with backup and e-mail software
  • Heterogeneous storage device discovery, reporting and management
  • An end-to-end view of the data from the application to the disk
  • Historical storage usage and trending reports at the operating system level
Hardware vendors generally bundle and license SRM software with their storage systems. For instance, EMC's base software licensing for its Clariion models includes call-home capabilities (CLARalert), a Web-based GUI, a license for its SYMAPI software, logical unit number (LUN) security, a Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) provider, and array monitoring and alerting capabilities. Other features like local and remote replication, performance management, switch zoning, and server and database agents are components of EMC's VisualSRM family that may be purchased separately.

The acquisition of independent SRM companies by hardware vendors underscores the larger trend toward hardware vendors becoming system vendors. Acquiring SRM vendors solves two problems for hardware vendors: It gives them access to technology that might have taken them months or years to develop, and it allows them to take an expanded role in existing customer accounts.

SRM licensing issues
To discover and manage more storage devices, users typically have to purchase additional software licenses. SRM licensing is confusing, and no two SRM vendors do it exactly the same way. Common licensing criteria include the total number of Fibre Channel (FC) switch ports, tape ports, the number and size of disk arrays, server databases, managed capacity or some combination thereof. Given the complexity and the number of factors that may be used, SRM licensing costs can easily climb to more than $1 million.

There are two keys to controlling SRM licensing costs. First, identify what components in your environment will be growing and include that in the total price of the tool. For instance, hardware vendors tend to tie licensing to managed capacity, while software vendors are more apt to base licensing on the number of server and database instances. Users are best served financially by choosing a licensing model that's tied to the part of their environment that's growing the slowest. Because storage continues to grow for most companies, licensing costs based on the number of server and database instances tend to be the most cost-efficient approach. You can also help rein in licensing costs by establishing up front what you want to do with the tool. A tool that reports only on device discovery is less expensive than a tool that manages those devices, file systems and database applications.

This was first published in January 2006

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