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Searching for seamless consolidation

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Next up: central management
Phase 2 will bring Reliant large utilization benefits, but it doesn't represent the storage utility end point that Brazil is aiming for. While Phase 2 will consolidate networked storage at each tier, it won't consolidate management under a single set of storage management software tools.

That's because there's still no single, heterogeneous set of tools that can both aggregate storage resource information and reach down to manage individual storage devices as well as the proprietary tools that come from storage hardware vendors. For that, says Brazil, Reliant expects it will need to wait until 2005, when it launches Phase 3 of its networked storage consolidation plan.

Elevated storage utilization is only one target of companies beginning to push toward consolidated, centrally managed networked storage. Besides being able to use more of the storage space they have bought, organizations such as Deloitte Consulting also see an opportunity to save money by making sure that every file and volume of data is being stored at all times on the storage medium that delivers just the right performance and cost characteristics to match business and application service level requirements.

"We want to be able to dynamically allocate disk and constantly reassign data to different disk using hierarchical storage management software so that we know we are using the most expensive disk for the most important

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tasks," says Eric Eriksen, CTO, Deloitte Consulting. "And we want to be able to do that across all of our data centers around the globe."

Deloitte operates five data centers, including its main corporate data center in Philadelphia. Historically, each of those data centers has been responsible for running regional applications and managing its own storage. In 2000, however, Eriksen embarked on a two-pronged consolidation strategy. Part 1 involved pulling operation of some enterprise applications and storage into the main Philadelphia data center. Part 2 linked Deloitte's three largest data centers with a high-speed hub-and-spoke network and deployed standard storage management tools and processes throughout.

"We've been on a two-and-a-half-year quest to stamp out individual solutions in the different data centers and to do everything--including managing storage--on a worldwide basis, making the global data center the master," says Eriksen.

So far, Eriksen has been partly successful. He's consolidated some applications into the Philadelphia data center, but he hasn't been as successful at finding HSM and other tools that can be used to efficiently migrate storage throughout his mixed-vendor, worldwide network. As a result, he says Deloitte still doesn't have global visibility--much less seamless management--of its storage resources.

Currently, Eriksen is using Veritas SANPoint Control s software to monitor utilization and other aspects of his heterogeneous SAN environment, and to do some basic storage allocation and configuration. But Eriksen says, SANPoint Control is far less useful than native device managers for low-level device-specific management tasks such as LUN masking. So in most cases, Eriksen has been forced to license and use hardware-specific native tools as well.

"We'd like to be able to abstract everything to a common tool like SANPoint Control, Eriksen says, adding, "so far it has not proven to be able to do all the things we need." He thinks as industry standards become more established; in two years, vendors will deliver a more robust set of management tools.

This was first published in October 2003

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