SRM tools get sharper

Process automation, performance tuning and better integration between products goes some way toward easing storage management, vendors claim.

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) and Softek Storage Solutions Corp. will announce new tools this week designed to automate processes, centralize backup, improve multi-platform support and enhance performance tuning -- among a shopping list of other improvements.

The latest version of Islandia, New York-based CA's storage resource management (SRM) software, BrightStor r11.1, supports over 100 storage arrays, tape libraries, SAN switches, servers, operating systems, databases and applications. But aside from supporting all the latest widgets, which is par for the course for an independent software vendor, CA has added another new tool to its arsenal -- BrightStor Process Automation Manager.

CA spokespeople claim this product provides common, automated management of resources, capacity and backup processes across heterogeneous platforms -- aligning storage processes with business requirements. Great buzz words, for sure, but quite how far Process Automation Manager goes in terms of the number of platforms it supports and how much automation it achieves isn't clear from CA's announcement.

Stephanie Balaouras, analyst with the Yankee Group, said it's a step in the right direction but probably still doesn't go far enough. She said storage provisioning is one of the most complicated and arduous tasks a storage administrator has to perform. Balaouras estimates there are approximately 20 steps an administrator must follow in order to provision storage (see sidebar). It's no walk in the park

How to provision storage:

1. Initiate RAID
2. Create new RAID
3. Assign LUN to volume
4. Select/map volume to port
5. Create/update storage volume
6. Set up SAN fabric ports
7. Link switch to host
8. Set up multiple paths
9. Select storage port
10. Map HBA LUNs to OS/file system
11. Initiate/update file system/volume manager
12. Adjust backup for new volume
13. Set up mirroring, replication and snapshot
14. Adjust storage system and server management
15. Set up the HBA
16. Select the HBA ports
17. Assign HBA/server to storage hosts
18. Map volume to HBA
19. Create/update the volume on the host
20. Test connection to fabric

Other improvements in BrightStor r11.1 include centralized backup control for users with multiple backup tools. As well as supporting its own ARCserve and enterprise backup products, BrightStor r11.1 also supports IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Legato Networker and Veritas NetBackup.

Integration between BrightStor Storage Resource Manager (SRM) and BrightStor ARCserve Backup lets users decide what data to back up and when. CA claims that by applying the business intelligence in BrightStor SRM to backup management, users can reduce hardware purchases and better allocate staff resources and storage hardware based on the importance of the data to the business. Databases and applications supported include: Advantage Ingres, Oracle, DB2, Microsoft Exchange, PeopleSoft, SAP R/3 and Sybase.

BrightStor r11.1 products are available now under CA's FlexSelect licensing program. The company has added capacity pricing, a new licensing model based on terabyte capacity that reduces the need to track server- or application-based licenses.

Softek tunes up

CA isn't the only storage software vendor sprucing up its wares. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Softek has announced Performance Tuner, which gives users the ability to pinpoint trouble spots in storage networks before they arise.

Server and storage network performance statistics are first collected to establish a baseline of normal operation. Then, when performance levels fall outside the normal range, Softek Performance Tuner proactively alerts IT staff to the problem and makes suggestions on how and where to tune the system. It also includes performance profiling capabilities to help users identify and resolve specific problems and return the storage environment to its normal performance range.

New features in Softek Storage Manager 2.5 include the ability to manage 500 million files from a single instance of the software, up from 100 million; plus a simplified charge-back mechanism and support for Linux on IBM zSeries servers.

Softek SANView 5.5 includes support for SMI-S and hardware support for the latest EMC Clarion, Hitachi Data Systems 9900v arrays and Brocade and McData switches. Softek Storage Manager 2.5 is priced from $24,995, Softek Performance Tuner is priced from $3,995 and Softek SANView 5.5 is priced from $12,595.

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