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SRM roadmaps
What does the future role of SRM look like? Over the past 20 years, software has played an increasingly important role in everything we do. The main goal is to leverage software to make it easier to perform a task by automating and optimizing the process. The same is true for data centers, especially as they become more complex and dynamic environments.

One trend worth tracking is the effort put into extending data center automation to storage. The result will be end-to-end visibility and control of the data center. Larger companies selling SRM tools have been making acquisitions and developing technology to create a portfolio of offerings capable of managing the entire data center. Notably, HP recently rolled Storage Essentials into the HP software group being driven by the Opsware team. EMC has been working diligently to deliver an end-to-end package with its Smarts and nLayers acquisitions, as well as by developing products, like IT Process Centre, internally. Net-App has invested several years developing its Storage Management and Applications Integration team and has augmented its internal efforts with a string of software acquisitions, most recently, Onaro.

The large vendors have been developing tools at the application layer through to backup, but they're still largely separate software packages. Even if more features were combined into a super-sized

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SRM package, there's some question of whether enterprise organizations could absorb them. Most are still highly siloed and require executive sponsorship for one domain to get visibility into a different area. Cultural changes will need to occur before a holistic solution can be deployed.

Standards--or rather a lack of mature standards--continue to impede progress in storage domains. Without them, heterogeneous solutions are very difficult to develop and support. Storage vendors focus their efforts on their own products first and then provide less-developed support for others. Independent firms like Symantec, Tek-Tools and startups put a lot of effort into delivering true heterogeneous solutions. Traditionally, the smaller independent companies usually start by supporting market leaders and then extending support as time and opportunity allow.

Eventually, there will be a data center OS that will fulfill the role of monitoring and managing the entire data center, automating all of its processes. It will take some time before that occurs, but that's not a reason to wait. SRM solutions offered today still deliver real value. Choose the one that will provide the most value for your environment today.

This was first published in March 2008

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