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EMC offers tools for planning, managing SANs

Kevin Komiega

EMC Corp. wants to sell you annual subscriptions, but not for magazines or newspapers. The Hopkinton, Mass., storage company is peddling a pair of online software tools aimed at aiding users with storage area network (SAN) design and overall systems monitoring and management.

EMC today announced two Web-based extensions for its ControlCenter storage management software. The first, dubbed SAN Architect, is template-based SAN design, modeling and validation software. The second tool, called AutoAdvice, is an engine that analyzes current and historical application and infrastructure performance and resource allocation, according to the company.

Chris Gahagan, EMC's senior vice president of storage infrastructure software, said that SAN Architect extends EMC's management approach. He added that SAN Architect and AutoAdvice grew out of technology acquired through the acquisition of Luminate Software Corp.

"It allows the customer to tell us what they want their configuration to look like, what they think it's going to look like. And then we can tell them before they deploy it, will it work?" Gahagan said.

"If you look at Auto Advice, it's what you do, it's what you use after you get it deployed. So as your storage is running, [you can use it if you want to know what would happen if you made a change to a driver or something]. It's one thing to say that you're compliant, if you will, at deployment, but what happens if new drivers come out, or

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if you change your SAN?"

Gahagan also said the AutoAdvice tool could be described as "intelligent supervision management."

"It opens the door to our customer to our knowledge base. We've invested $2 billion in our interoperability lab. This gives customers access to that data," he said.

Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, said AutoAdvice could be useful for a number of reasons.

First, she said, it's a proactive service that alerts users to issues with their applications and gives them suggestions on how to resolve the problem. "That's pretty powerful itself, seeing the service doesn't just monitor, like many management applications, but it tells the user how they can fix the problem," she said.

Marrone said the inference engine is probably the strongest feature of the software. "Solutions that can learn from past problems and determine the steps to take to resolve the problem are very valuable even in a single enterprise environment. The AutoAdvice solution correlates information from multiple enterprise environments, so the knowledge base is much greater than anything a single enterprise could develop," Marrone said.

"I think EMC will have to focus on application management just to stay in the management game," she said. "In reality, IT organizations need to maintain the performance of the applications, which requires managing the storage infrastructure, but you can't effectively manage the storage environment if you don't have knowledge of the application performance."

EMC said the new online ControlCenter management capabilities provide customers with direct, Web-based access to the company's repository of information about storage and systems management, basically the combined know-how from EMC's implementations and its E-Lab database of storage, server and network metrics.

SAN Architect and AutoAdvice can be used by themselves or as extensions to the ControlCenter family of storage management applications.

Each of the software tools is available for a one-year subscription. SAN Architect will run approximately $2,400 while AutoAdvice is available with coverage from one to 50,000 CPUs. The price for a single CPU is $400. EMC said the more CPUs involved, the bigger the discount.

EMC said SAN Architect and AutoAdvice are the first in a "series" of Web-based ControlCenter software.

Yvonne Guzman contributed to this article.

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

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