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SD2002: EMC offers tool for automating storage provisioning

Kevin Komiega

CHICAGO -- As part of its ongoing push into storage software, EMC Corp. unveiled a series of tools and product enhancements here Wednesday during the Storage Decisions 2002 user conference that will allow enterprises to automate tedious management tasks such as storage provisioning.

Atop the list of the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC's new offerings is the Automated Resource Manager (ARM), a tool designed to ease the pains of provisioning storage resources to applications by automating the necessary manual steps.

The ARM is the newest member of EMC's ControlCenter family of storage management software and, according to the company, it supports both EMC and non-EMC storage devices, including Symmetrix, Clariion and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s StorageWorks.

Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC, said when you take a complex environment and add something like 200 G Bytes of storage you have to assign LUNs, perform zoning, provisioning and other operations.

"We're giving you tools to provision your storage end to end by setting up policies to fit the kinds of capabilities you have in your storage," Tucci said. "[ARM] makes your heterogeneous storage look like one storage pool."

The basic idea behind ARM is to allow customers to provision storage through pre-set policies to support application needs. EMC said policy options can be set for type of storage, RAID level, replication parameters and number of paths between server and storage.

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ARM also provisions and manages heterogeneous storage pools based on geography, application and functional organization.

Overall, the new products are a step in the right direction, but some analysts and users were dismayed that EMC's software can only manage some, but not all functions of storage arrays from other vendors.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said this is an "excellent first step", but the true power of multi-vendor management software will come when EMC can really drill down into other vendors' hardware.

"ARM removes what is a very manual process today," said Mark Lewis, EMC's new chief technology officer and executive vice president of new ventures. "It might take one hour to plug in [an array], but take three days to configure.

"This is policy-based. Within the tool we take care of LUN masking, provisioning and configuring storage for quality of service. Today that is done very manually."

Lewis said EMC plans on moving quickly to support all of the major storage players through API sharing or reverse engineering.

Tony Prigmore, senior analyst for the Milford, Mass-based analyst firm Enterprise Storage Group Inc., said that automatic storage provisioning is poised to take center stage in storage management.

"Virtualization is going to be embedded as an enabling technology, and provisioning is going to take its place as the new big thing," he said.

But, he said, EMC's AutoIS strategy, WideSky middleware and the renaming of ESN Manager is causing confusion among users and in the industry as a whole.

"EMC needs to worry about how many people are still using past [revisions] of its management software and how many people are even going to turn the key on that provisioning feature," he said.

EMC also announced broader support and interoperability across hardware from Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Network Appliance Inc.

Along with debuting the Automated Resource Manager, EMC has renamed its ESN Manager product, which is now called SAN Manager. SAN Manager integrates several EMC management tools into one application and includes added support for active management of HP StorageWorks arrays, in addition to existing management support for Symmetrix and Clariion. SAN Manager also manages network devices from Brocade Communications Systems Inc., McData Corp., Qlogic Corp. and EMC Connectrix. The SAN Manager product can zone, discover and report on storage arrays from HDS, HP and Sun, EMC said.

Randy Kerns, senior partner and storage analyst for the Boulder, Colo.-based Evaluator Group Inc., said EMC has never given roadmaps for delivery of new products. They said they were going to do this and they did it. That's important.

The key, Kerns said, is integration. SAN Manager integrates individual information repositories into a one that is used by many different storage management tools.

In addition, EMC also announced EMC Link, a subscription service that monitors applications and storage for troubleshooting. Common Array Manager, EMC's auto-discovery software, can now locate and identify hardware from Network Appliance.

Automated Resource Manager will be available in November 2002 at a starting price of $7,000. SAN Manager will rate a price of $2,400.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Analysis: Can EMC solve the storage management dilemma?

EMC exec details storage management gaps

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