Veritas' StorageCentral formidable storage resource management application


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Veritas StorageCentral Standard Edition 5.2
Storage resource manager
Key Features
Supports Active Directory and NetApp filers
Rich policy and reporting features
Currently only supports Windows Platforms
Starts at $3,149
Storage resource management (SRM) products are finally beginning to gain some attention. Storage administrators have found that adding hardware is at best a stopgap solution for storage capacity problems, and that changing the data retention habits of users is a far better long-term solution.

This realization has renewed interest in SRM applications, such as Veritas Software Corp.'s StorageCentral 5.2, which is one of a new crop of SRM programs, such as AppIQ Inc.'s StorageAuthority Suite and Northern Parklife Inc.'s Storage Suite, among others. These products demonstrate that a significant ROI is possible when applying software to a storage management problem.

Veritas StorageCentral Standard Edition supports Windows environments including XP, NT, 2000, Server 2003 and Storage Server 2003. Minimum system requirements vary, depending on the functionality of the agent being installed, but typically a supported operating system with 512MB of main memory, 50MB of disk space for the agent and some additional disk space for the database will be sufficient.

Installing the agents and options require varying levels of administrative access. StorageCentral Standard Edition requires only local administrative access, while the Active Directory (AD) and Network Appliance Inc. (NetApp) editions require local and domain administrative access. During installation, two additional groups are created to read and modify the AD: SCRead and SCWrite. StorageCentral also requests an administration account name to manage its services. If you use the system account to manage these services, you're likely to run into an identification error when launching the application. This is a known problem and the workaround is available and documented on Veritas' Web site.

For mass installations, StorageCentral can be installed on a Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS), and then propagated to networked clients.

Client agents are installed on each of the managed application servers and are responsible for sending raw information about storage resources to the database. During installation, you can choose whether the database is local to each instance of StorageCentral or centralized to the "managing" instance. By default, the database of choice is Access, but you can use SQL Server to tap its richer feature set.

Veritas offers an AD edition of StorageCentral that lets you normalize your storage resource policies across the enterprise by writing into the AD. To enable this functionality, AD's schema must be modified during the installation to add attributes and classes to the layout. This happens automatically during installation of the AD option, as does the population of the AD with registry data.

The NetApp filer option allows the network-attached storage (NAS) resources to be managed in the same way that direct-attached storage (DAS) or a storage area network (SAN) is managed through the connected application server. For this option, the minimum supported filer OS version is Ontap 6.4, and the common Internet file system (CIFS) and the simple network management protocol (SNMP) must be enabled and configured. Because Ontap 6.4 is not a full-blown operation system, a general-purpose Windows server running a remote agent and Microsoft Management Console (MMC) must be in the same domain as the filer(s) it will manage. In addition, a share named "Veritas" must be configured on each filer you want to register and monitor with the remote agent. A single remote agent can manage multiple filers.

Installation of StorageCentral 5.2 Standard Edition and the options requires a reboot of the Windows server and NetApp filer. This is disruptive, and could be a serious impediment to implementation for application users responsible for managing 24x7 applications. Perhaps SRM applications should be offered as network-based applications, so the service could be turned on at the port, and the associated resources discovered and reported on.

This was first published in May 2004

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