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SRM tools struggle to meet today's demands

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At one time, SRM applications tried to be all things for all storage shops, with little success. Modern data storage environments require new tools to navigate the intricacies of virtualized environments, but the jury's still out on whether storage management vendors can meet those needs.

The information storage managers want most about their data storage systems probably hasn't changed since storage arrays began appearing in the enterprise. These days, however, storage managers need even more than that if they expect to run an efficient storage operation that addresses business needs as well as storage.

"The basics haven't changed: how much storage do I have, how much is still available and what is the utilization," said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). But Laliberte doesn't stop there. Storage managers also want to look across multiple storage tiers and arrays from different vendors.

"Of course, we look at the usual metrics to make sure we have enough storage capacity," said a storage manager at a large financial trading firm. However, he wants more than that from his storage resource management (SRM) tool, Aptare Inc.'s StorageConsole. "We have customers who do a lot of algorithmic trading, which entails many more orders per trade. That means there's more data to be stored for each trade," he explained. The company uses the Aptare application to track the storage activity for chargeback

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purposes.

Chargeback is just one of the new metrics storage managers want from SRM tools. While they're chasing down the basic capacity data, they might as well collect storage-area network (SAN) configuration data, information on network paths, and data on backup success/failure rates with their SRM tool. Others see the need to extend SRM even further, with storage and SAN performance metrics, and visibility into the virtualized environment. "We also see SRM providing real-time performance metrics," said Jeff Boles, senior analyst and director, validation services at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group. In short, storage resource management has to be about more than just available capacity.

This was first published in April 2010

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