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for a chart of
the most desired SRM features (PDF).

Future needs
The ESG survey also asked users what features they felt must be included in an SRM product, and whether they would buy a product if it didn't include such and such a feature (see "Most desired SRM features," above).

Among the top five responses was support for storage virtualization (third) and support for server virtualization (fifth). Given the popularity and high adoption rate of technologies like VMware, IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and thin provisioning, it only makes sense that virtualization support will be a requirement for SRM solutions. In addition, it highlights that for all the benefits a new technology introduces, problems are also created. In this case, the problem lies with management. Do I trust the alerts in the thin-provisioning software? How do I know where the app resides, and is the path optimized?

Server virtualization requires SRM software because even virtualized environments need to be supported by networked storage. According to ESG research, 86% of respondents deploying server virtualization are leveraging networked storage. This is because to take advantage of all the data mobility and protection capabilities made possible by virtualization, there needs to be an infrastructure supporting it. Today, users employ a mix of Fibre Channel SANs, NAS and iSCSI SANs to accomplish this.

SRM companies only began providing support for virtualization services last year and the response has been great. EMC ControlCenter SAN Manager was the first software package to provide end-to-end support for VMware, and it sold more than 1,000 licenses in its first six months. Tek-Tools added a VMware module to its Profiler suite. Symantec CommandCentral Storage 5.0 announced support for not only VMware, but for IBM's SVC and Hitachi Data System arrays. IBM's Tivoli products provide support for SVC as well. Smaller companies have also come out with support for VMware. Akorri Inc. and NetApp's Onaro were awarded "Best of" awards at VMworld for supporting virtual environments. If your current vendor doesn't support virtualization services, ask about their roadmap; they should be in the process of addressing it.

Expect support for virtual environments to continue to grow not only in terms of functionality, but in vendor support as new products gain market share. While VMware is the current market leader in the server virtualization space, Citrix Inc.'s XenServer, Microsoft Corp.'s Veridian and Virtual Iron Software Inc.'s Virtual Iron are all players. On the storage side, IBM's SVC is a leader in the storage virtualization space; however, there are many other independent providers and thin-provisioning offerings that need to be supported.

This was first published in March 2008

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