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SRM tools struggle to meet today's demands

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Changing SRM landscape

The rise of players like Aptare signals a change in the SRM landscape. "The big SRM players of the past are now littered along the side of the road . . . maybe a few have survived," said Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, Stillwater, Minn. IBM remains with its various Tivoli tools, while Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. now has Storage Essentials, into which it folded its AppIQ acquisition. EMC Corp. includes SRM in its Ionix family of tools.

Many other management software vendors have been absorbed by bigger players. Onaro Inc., which provided visibility into the SAN, was acquired by NetApp. Tek-Tools Software, a popular small SRM player, was acquired by SolarWinds, and Quest Software Inc. picked up MonoSphere Inc. and its Storage Horizon capacity management tool in 2009. Similarly, IBM acquired NovusCG in 2007, while Opsware acquired CreekPath Systems in 2006 and was then acquired by HP the following year.

Yet fresh players continue to arrive on the scene, Schulz noted. For example, SANpulse Technologies Inc., which isn't exactly a startup, provides analysis and correlation.

"Overall, we're seeing a shift from the large monolithic, costly SRM tools to lighter, easier to use, more nimble tools," Schulz said. The old SRM tools typically required extensive customization and took upwards of a year to deploy before a company would start seeing real value. "Today's smaller, lighter tools are relatively

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cheap and fast to install. The users get value almost immediately," he added.

Aptare CEO Rick Clark refers to the earlier storage resource management players as SRM 1.0. He dubs new players, like his company, as SRM 2.0.

In addition to their high cost and big footprint, the older SRM products also relied heavily on agent technology. This not only slowed deployment, but complicated management as each agent became a potential problem and expense. The older products also often required a fat client on the storage administrator's desk which, at a minimum, might have to run one or a few Java applets. Agents facilitate the collection of detailed information from the storage arrays of different vendors.

SRM 2.0 tools, by comparison, are generally agentless. If they're not agentless, "they find creative ways to get around the use of agents by substituting a more friendly kind of agent," StorageIO Group's Schulz said. This often takes the form of an external appliance that knows how to dig out the desired information from each attached storage device.

"Agentless SRM approaches certainly are a lot easier," said Steve Scully, research manager, continuity, disaster recovery (DR) and storage orchestration at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "Previously, companies had to commit to installing lots of agents. In effect, you were adding to the problem in your attempt to fix the problem."

Despite the tumult in the storage resource management segment over the past few years, IDC's ranking of top SRM vendors hasn't changed much. "EMC is the big gorilla in the space with Ionix," Scully said. It's followed by IBM with its TotalStorage Productivity Center, CA's Storage Resource Manager and HP's Storage Essentials products.

This was first published in April 2010

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