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Single-pane storage management

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A single console to manage heterogeneous storage is the Holy Grail of storage management for many users, but not all vendors share this vision.


It's not news that SANs have quickly grown in size, complexity and heterogeneity, and that they've become increasingly difficult to manage. A SAN serving a company with more than 10,000 employees has an average of 317 storage devices, according to IDC. Managing a large SAN from a single pane of glass--one consolidated console--would be a godsend.

Although the prospect of consolidated management isn't likely to become a reality soon, the challenges of supporting heterogeneous storage include the following:

  • A rapidly expanding, immature industry with many competing technologies
  • The rise of iSCSI and the emergence of new storage protocols and disk technologies
  • Various approaches for storage file systems and storage virtualization
But there's reason to hope. From emerging storage management standards to the consolidation of storage management tools, the storage industry is slowly--albeit very slowly--progressing toward unified storage management. "In the past couple of years, we've seen storage resource management [SRM] and SAN management converge," says Laura DuBois, research director, storage software at IDC.

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Heterogeneous storage management suites
Click here for a comprehensive list of heterogeneous storage management suites (PDF).

The storage software market was traditionally separated into SRM, which deals with host-based issues such as capacity planning and file reporting, and SAN management, which focused on managing the storage infrastructure (see "Heterogeneous storage management suites" PDF). Discovery of storage components, health and performance monitoring, and reporting along the full data path from the file system, host bus adapter and SAN switch down to the array, LUN and physical spindle are requisites for a storage management suite to provide a detailed view of the entire storage landscape.

Configuration management of storage components and the ability to provision storage--from LUN creation and zoning to the presentation of storage to a host--should also be among any storage management application's capabilities. Newer features, such as the ability to model changes and the visualization of the complete data path, are also turning up in storage management suites.

This was first published in May 2006

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