Article

Onaro adds capacity planning, plans VMware support

Beth Pariseau, News Writer

Onaro Inc. has announced two new software modules for capacity planning and application monitoring for its SANScreen change management and monitoring product, as well as plans to add long-awaited VMware support

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in the fourth quarter.

At the time of Onaro's last major release last December, some users said they had two key wish list items: more in-depth storage resource management (SRM) functionality and support for SRM virtual machines.

Onaro's response to that was that both were outside the scope of its product. And according to vice president of marketing Bryan Semple, that remains true. Onaro's new Capacity Manager 1.0 and Provisioning Manager 1.0 delve further into the capacity planning and SRM space than the company has gone before, but still don't go as in-depth as SRM tools. For example, while Capacity Manager will report on allocated space on disk arrays, it will not show the actual utilization of LUNs, something most SRM products do today.

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"Those tools give a very microscopic report, not a global view," Semple said, arguing that SRM tools are complementary to rather than competitive with Onaro's product. The purpose of Capacity Manager is to map the broad relationships between applications and allocated capacity by geographical location, building floor, data center room, devices and individual data paths. Toward that end, Onaro is tucking in another new piece of software with Capacity Manager called Application Dashboard, which offers a "top down" view of storage and switch resources by application, rather than the "bottom up" view provided by Onaro's Application Insight Manager.

Capacity Manager 1.0 also supports the organization of devices into tiers that can be custom annotated according to a user's naming conventions and tiering categories. This custom annotation also supports an annotation for arrays that are in the "sunset" phase being decommissioned soon.

Symantec Corp.'s recently announced update to its CommandCentral Storage SRM tool contains similar features for top-down views of data centers. Its software accomplishes this through integration with a separate piece of software called Enterprise Reporter, based on an OEM of Cognos 8 Business Intelligence software from Cognos Inc., while also providing utilization reporting.

There are other similarities between CommandCentral's recent updates and this update to SANScreen. Onaro's Provisioning Manager 1.0 keeps track of reservations and allocations of space on disk devices by application and also comes with an API that users can tap to integrate their own provisioning scripts to automate the process of applying report information to their provisioning plans. This is similar to the integration capabilities of Symantec's Process Automation Manager, announced with CommandCentral Storage 5.0. Key differences are that Onaro's tool allows end users to log in to view the interface and request reservations, while the Symantec tool does not require scripting for process automation.

Semple said this, too, is a conscious decision on Onaro's part. "We don't want to get into actually touching or moving anything on an array," he said. "Most users already have scripts in use for provisioning."

One user, Michael Passe, storage architect for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, said he's happy Onaro is sticking to its guns about not straying too far into either the SRM or device management realms, which Onaro said would require it to add software agents. "They've set out a mission statement and stuck to their guns, and the result of that is that they're not going to become just another over-bloated software product," said Passe.

Passe said that he uses Onaro alongside EMC Corp.'s ControlCenter (ECC) to manage his environment, but said he's fine with using two tools for overall management. "Nobody's delivered on that single pane of glass promise," he said. "Different devices have different ways they want to be managed."

In fact, Passe said, if there's any tool he's going to toss out in an effort to consolidate, it's more likely to be ECC than SANScreen, especially with the recent introduction of a separate device manager for provisioning and reporting on Symmetrix. "Onaro's starting to get good enough that some shops might say, 'this is enough,'" he said.

Passe has been a beta tester for both the capacity and provisioning modules, and said that the key to the tools is their ability to provide end users at his company with information on space reservations, allocations and provisioning. However, he said he'd like Onaro to develop a separate interface to present to end users, rather than having the same interface for both IT administrators and end users. "There's more features there than the end users need to know about," he said. The provisioning tool will come in handy, he added, for testing provisioning plans before actually executing them, though Passe said he felt the tool isn't quite yet complete: "They've added this great API connection for automating provisioning, but I wish they'd done the same for decommissioning [storage]."

VMware support to follow

Onaro has not yet released support for VMware, but has announced with this release that it has plans to do so in the "mid-fourth quarter" of this year. The support will track performance in the storage fabric and storage allocation for guest servers within ESX hosts. This also falls short of the kind of comprehensive reporting tool for VMware that many users have hoped for, but here again, Semple said Onaro is committed "not to go past the HBA."

"The physical server and VMware tools themselves understand how VMs are utilizing the CPU, memory and network connectivity of the server," he said. "Virtual machine management is a cross-domain challenge, and it needs to be managed across domains by coordinating separate teams on the server and storage side, as well as their separate tools."


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