Hitachi Data Systems Adaptable Modular Storage (AMS) 2000 Family

Storage management tools

Gold Award:

Akorri Inc. BalancePoint 3.0

The general trend with storage management tools has been a shift to agentless monitoring and more end-to-end monitoring, from the applications and virtual servers to the storage arrays, to better troubleshoot performance problems.

Akorri Inc.'s BalancePoint has been ahead of the curve in agent-free monitoring, and the latest version of the product adds analysis for another piece of the infrastructure, SAN switches from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., as well as richer metrics for virtual machines and storage.

"Adding SAN switches is something they have needed to complete the picture," said one judge. Another said the tool "sets the bar for holistic capacity and performance-oriented infrastructure management."

Rich Corley, Akorri's founder, chief technology officer (CTO) and vice president of engineering, said BalancePoint, which also won gold in 2007, initially focused on managing the virtual storage infrastructure. But the company expanded the product's scope to provide greater end-to-end visibility into mapping and layout, as well as performance and availability, from the virtual machines to the arrays.

BalancePoint plugs into an Ethernet network and collects and stores information at 15-minute intervals using industry-standard protocols such as the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Secure Shell (SSH), wherever possible, and going to the API level when necessary.

The tool delivers a visual representation that shows how infrastructure pieces interact with each other, analysis of how workload and utilization levels affect application performance, and actionable recommendations.

New troubleshooting and planning analysis metrics include Virtual CPU Efficiency (to identify and resolve CPU bottlenecks by comparing the guest OS with actual virtual machine usage) and a VM Performance Index (a physical-to-virtual migration metric to enable optimal sizing of each VM for its application).

BalancePoint 3.0 supports most major storage systems, with this version adding support for 3PAR's InServ Series. Version 3.0 also adds support for VMware Inc.'s vSphere 4.

Entry-level list pricing to manage 5 TB of storage and all attached applications and servers is $8,750. Pricing is based on terabytes of storage managed.

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