Veritas' StorageCentral formidable storage resource management application


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Environment and performance
StorageCentral is ideally suited for large Windows-based server environments with standardized AD administration and an abundance of NetApp NAS filers. As the product is currently offered, these environments will yield the greatest ROI.

But this configuration is not representative of the majority of IT server environments. In most IT shops, the majority of SAN and NAS solutions are still servicing Unix servers. A Unix version of the product would likely boost its chances of acceptance.

StorageCentral scales at the domain level with collectors and remote agents for NetApp filers. Multiple collectors and NetApp remote agents can exist in a single domain, but they can't manage storage resources across domains because domain-level privileges are necessary for the installation of AD and NetApp editions of StorageCentral. This approach makes sense because most Windows-based security policies start at the domain level.

SNMP plays an important role when supporting NetApp filers. It is used to send management data between the filer and the StorageCentral remote agent configured in the same domain. Therefore, SNMP must be enabled on both the filer and the server hosting the remote agent. Network managers should be pleased that StorageCentral has its own registered object identifier for enhanced management in Hewlett-Packard's OpenView and other similar applications.

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Performance scales well with the number of managed hosts because rather than touching every file on the managed host, agents scan the meta data in the NTFS master file table to derive statistical information. This also helps to expedite the creation of reports. A single collector agent can service large domains. Any scaling limitation is likely to arise from the fact that report generation is memory intensive, so a large number of managed nodes may require an increase in the memory on the collector.

I didn't find it necessary to use Veritas' support line during the course of testing. The product manuals, a best practices white paper and even a trial copy of the StorageCentral V5.2 software are all available as downloads from the Veritas Web site. I also took advantage of a live demonstration session that was being offered on a regular basis. The downloads and demonstration make it easy to test StorageCentral before considering a purchase.

Overall, StorageCentral is a good economic and administrative solution for large Windows-based environments that are standardized on AD and NetApp filers. It reaches into these entities and extends your management arm to eliminate waste on your SAN and NAS infrastructures. Veritas suggests that by using StorageCentral, as much as 30% of current storage can be reclaimed and procurement can be cut by up to 25%. Its simple design and interface let you locate and group storage resources, apply extensive corporate policies and then manage those policies through a solid set of reporting features.

Still, enterprise SRM solutions must include the entire enterprise and do more in the way of provisioning. Because StorageCentral currently only supports Windows environments and lacks provisioning, a large part of an enterprise's resource management problem is likely to continue, making it necessary to deploy another solution to address those issues.

This was first published in May 2004

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