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From the field
Babu Kudaravalli,
director of enterprise systems


Business: National Medical Health Card Systems Inc., Port Washington, NY

Storage environment: 85TB of storage comprising Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s StorageWorks XP1024, HP StorageWorks EVA8000, HP MSA1500, IBM Corp. DAS (10% of total storage), and Cisco Systems Inc.'s MDS 9509 and 9506 switches

Storage management application: HP Storage

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Essentials. Kudaravalli currently uses Storage Essentials for reporting and monitoring. He plans to phase in more advanced features over time and will eventually manage all storage aspects using HP Storage Essentials.

Primary driver for deploying a storage management suite: The company quadrupled in the past four years, but Kudaravalli's team grew by only 10%. His team can be more efficient by having a single storage management application to manage all storage devices with HP's Storage Essentials.

Assessment: He finds the product very powerful but complex.

Recommendations: Kudaravalli recommends a trial period or proof of concept prior to purchasing a suite to ensure that the storage management application fits into the environment and supports all storage management needs. Furthermore, proper training is crucial for a successful project and adoption.

Vendor product support
Vendors that offer products in addition to a storage management suite have an advantage with customers using some of their other products. In addition to the existing customer vendor relationship benefit, most companies try to limit the number of vendors they use. For example, this gives Symantec Corp. a leg up with customers that already own its Veritas backup products because the products are tightly integrated. Similarly, Computer Associates (CA) International Inc.'s close integration of BrightStor with its Unicenter system management suite and ARCserve backup application, gives BrightStor an advantage in companies already using Unicenter or ARCserve. Storage management applications from EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and IBM Corp. favor those vendors' own products. For example, IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center (TPC) for Replication currently supports only IBM storage and does performance reporting on IBM's SAN Volume Controller virtualization product only; similarly, EMC's ControlCenter can only discover, map and monitor its own Invista storage virtualization product.

Companies like CreekPath Systems don't have this leverage and have been struggling to compete against major storage vendors. As a result, CreekPath is in the process of rebranding itself as a "storage business analytics vendor" with a focus on storage analysis and trending. AppIQ Inc., on the other hand, was among the best for heterogeneous storage support and was acquired by HP. The AppIQ product is now sold as HP Storage Essentials. AdventNet Inc. took a different path by focusing on usability and affordability, and limiting its suite to discovery, monitoring and reporting of heterogeneous devices targeting the small- to medium-sized market.

Today's storage management applications are far from being truly heterogeneous because they work with only a limited number of devices and protocols, requiring users to look closely at qualification matrices when shopping for a storage management application. Furthermore, customers should insist on a trial period to ensure that the storage management application fits into their environment and supports all storage management needs, recommends Babu Kudaravalli, director of enterprise systems at National Medical Health Card Systems Inc. in Port Washington, NY (see "From the field").

This was first published in May 2006

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