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Tek-Tools adds path reporting on VMware and VTL

Beth Pariseau

Tek-Tools Inc. is launching the second phase of virtualization reporting for its Profiler suite resource management software, adding more granular support for VMware and a virtual tape library (VTL) module.

The most significant enhancement is VMware path reporting that builds on the first version of Profiler for VMware, which Tek-Tools rolled out in February. Profiler for VMware can now automatically map a guest host to its physical resources from servers to networks to the storage array -- down to the LUN level. The first version of the product provided visibility into virtual servers, but it did not make the connection with the rest of the network.

"I expect our VMware admins to use this more than me," said Ed Delgado, storage administrator for RiskMetrics Group, a New York-based financial services firm that has been beta testing the new Profiler software. "If they end up with four or five busy VMs on one LUN, they can see that and decide if they want to migrate or VMotion the servers to distribute the load without having to go through me."

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Delgado is also beta testing Profiler for the VTL module that tracks utilization on secondary disk. This VTL module expands the reach of Profiler, which Tek-Tools would like to eventually report on the entire data center environment and provide correlations and forecasting on data gathered from different sources.

"We already have the beta version of this module running on a production system," said Delgado, whose shop runs two EMC disk libraries with 40 TB capacity each. "There are a couple of items my management wants to know about the VTL, especially how much space a particular group policy takes up on the backup side, and how group policies align with business groups."

But this first version of the VTL reporting software doesn't report on data deduplication ratios or disk utilization with deduplication in place, according to Gustavo Sosa, Tek-Tools project manager. Data deduplication has become a checklist item for most VTLs, and "we understand the importance -- it's on our roadmap," Sosa said.

Other updates to the Profiler suite include a new media reporting tool that can track age, errors, expiration and duty cycle of physical tape media, as well as a new dashboard for the Profiler backup reporting module that adds a graphical representation of the most recent backups.

Delgado would like to see Tek-Tools add better integration with his Symantec NetBackup backup application, specifically reports on which valid backup images exist on what media (tape or other) by Netbackup policy. He's also looking for Exchange 2007 support.

SRM remains a tough sell

With Profiler, Tek-Tools is straddling two product categories – storage resource management (SRM) and backup reporting – which have been slow to catch on with customers. "Until users say it's unacceptable to pay so much for storage without knowing how it's being used, being in this business is a tough road," said analyst Andrew Reichman, Forrester Research. Profiler's ability to do forecasting, as well as reporting, and tying in server, storage and backup, gives Tek-Tools an advantage, "but none of these tools is very well-deployed," he said.

Tek-Tools' reporting has helped Delgado, but he acknowledged it was a tough sell. After data growth prompted management to ask for monthly meetings about storage, Delgado explained that it would take him a week every month to go through the Excel spreadsheet he used to generate a report. This got him clearance to evaluate SRM tools. However, before his company bought the software, he still needed to perform a full demo for his bosses to prove it would do what he said it would do. "Even though they were sold on the point, they still said, 'show me,' " Delgado said.

"For a long time we've talked about our product as a 'nice-to-have,' rather than a 'have-to-have,' and we're still struggling with that notion. But virtualization is changing that equation a little bit," said Steve Harding, Tek-Tools' director of marketing.


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