Interview

EMC exec details storage management gaps

Mark Lewis

What should storage administrators consider when selecting a storage management solution?
The temptation is to buy individual tools to solve specific problems. The impact is poor productivity -- the tools will work differently (requiring additional training and staff) as well as independently (hampering timely, coordinated responses to management challenges). Users should focus initially on functionality, but be mindful of the vendors' roadmap to integrate tools into an integrated environment. At a minimum, they should ask specific questions such as: How are the tools isolated from specific protocols? How are the tools sharing management information? Do the tools work with each other in context, using a common interface? Can the vendor help me assess, design, implement and transition? What investment has been made? What are the most important components of a storage policy?

While storage policies can be implemented through a variety of tools, the sad truth is that integrated storage policy is largely a manual practice today -- it does not have the tools and automation to make its application widespread.

We would respectively take the position that achieving integrated storage policy rests on an integrated storage management capability -- a capability only just now coming into the marketplace. Put another way, the most important components of a storage policy is to have a management capability to build on.

Explain virtualization to

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me?

Virtualization is the pooling and abstraction of storage resources. Block virtualization does this with block mode devices -- like disk arrays; file virtualization does this with file systems -- like NAS.

Block virtualization is what most people think about when talking about virtualization -- the pooling and abstraction of storage resources. Many competitive storage arrays provide abstraction and pooling of block storage devices. Vendors without block-mode virtualization inside their products must provide these services externally. The case for providing block mode virtualization across intelligent storage arrays that already do this has yet to emerge -- and is unlikely to in the near future -- hence its limited success to this point.

How does EMC support policies in storage hardware and software?

The good news is that individual policies can be established at important points in the EMC infrastructure: policies ondisk arrays (performance, availability, utilization, replication, optimization), storage networks (zoning, availability, performance, utilization, security), servers (performance, availability, resource utilization), applications (same general list) as well as backup/recovery.

The challenge is integrating all of these pieces into an integrated and automated environment. Much work needs to be done to achieve this.

EMC is working closely with SNIA to develop CIM. Specifically, what is EMC's involvement?
In particular, EMC announced that WideSky will support CIM standards as they emerge, both as a CIM provider (can be managed by CIM-compliant applications) as well as a CIM Object Manager (can manage CIM-compliant devices). As such, EMC believes WideSky will accelerate the deployment of CIM by allowing customers to smoothly transition between CIM and non-CIM applications and devices, while still retaining the coordination across server, switch and storage. When do you see it making a widespread impact on the industry?
The case for file virtualization (NAS) is quite compelling, and has made a significant impact in the storage industry, and will continue to do so. Most customers can achieve their virtualization goals (single name space, pooling of resources, abstraction from physical location) with NAS-based products, hence the limited interest in block-mode virtualization. The two approaches (file and block virtualization) are converging over time. Both topics should be considered as subtopics in the broader discussion of open storage management. A number of vendors are talking about storage consolidation. What method of consolidation do you recommend?

EMC's experience in storage consolidation has resulted in a point of view of "consolidation in phases". First, is storage device consolidation -- the use of shared storage devices across multiple servers and operating environments. The greater degree of consolidation, the better. Once the device strategy is firmly in hand, focus should proceed to the next phase.

Second, is storage network consolidation -- a single infrastructure to consolidate SAN, NAS as well as network servers. Again, the greater the degree of consolidation, the better. Once network strategy is understood and being implemented, focus should turn to management.

Third, is storage management consolidation -- consolidating multiple management tools into a single, integrated environment. Once again, the greater the degree of consolidation, the better. Once management strategy is understood and being implemented, focus should turn to policy.

Fourth, is storage policy consolidation -- a single policy-centric view on how information is shared, managed and protected. As before, the more the better. It is important to note that these build on each other. Device consolidation leads to network consolidation. Network consolidation leads to management consolidation. And management consolidation leads to policy consolidation. It's proven to be very difficult to do these out of order.

How often should a policy be updated?
Policy changes are driven by either new requirements, or new resources. Some IT environments experience changes in either requirements or resources on an infrequent basis -- hence the need to update is minimal. More likely, new requirements and resources are driven on a daily (or even hourly!) basis -- demanding a change in storage policy on a much more frequent basis.

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When do you see it making a widespread impact on the industry?
The case for file virtualization (NAS) is quite compelling, and has made a significant impact in the storage industry, and will continue to do so. Most customers can achieve their virtualization goals (single name space, pooling of resources, abstraction from physical location) with NAS-based products, hence the limited interest in block-mode virtualization. The two approaches (file and block virtualization) are converging over time. Both topics should be considered as subtopics in the broader discussion of open storage management. Explain virtualization to me?
Virtualization is the pooling and abstraction of storage resources. Block virtualization does this with block mode devices -- like disk arrays; file virtualization does this with file systems -- like NAS. Block virtualization is what most people think about when talking about virtualization -- the pooling and abstraction of storage resources. Many competitive storage arrays provide abstraction and pooling of block storage devices. Vendors without block-mode virtualization inside their products must provide these services externally. The case for providing block mode virtualization across intelligent storage arrays that already do this has yet to emerge -- and is unlikely to in the near future -- hence its limited success to this point. A number of vendors are talking about storage consolidation. What method of consolidation do you recommend?
EMC's experience in storage consolidation has resulted in a point of view of "consolidation in phases". First, is storage device consolidation -- the use of shared storage devices across multiple servers and operating environments. The greater degree of consolidation, the better. Once the device strategy is firmly in hand, focus should proceed to the next phase. Second, is storage network consolidation -- a single infrastructure to consolidate SAN, NAS as well as network servers. Again, the greater the degree of consolidation, the better. Once network strategy is understood and being implemented, focus should turn to management. Third, is storage management consolidation -- consolidating multiple management tools into a single, integrated environment. Once again, the greater the degree of consolidation, the better. Once management strategy is understood and being implemented, focus should turn to policy. Fourth, is storage policy consolidation -- a single policy-centric view on how information is shared, managed and protected. As before, the more the better. It is important to note that these build on each other. Device consolidation leads to network consolidation. Network consolidation leads to management consolidation. And management consolidation leads to policy consolidation. It's proven to be very difficult to do these out of order.
Related Topics: Storage vendors, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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