Getting the information you need to troubleshoot storage
By Rick Cook
Troubleshooting storage systems all to often runs into a problem of granularity versus universality, according to Bill Peldzus, storage consulting marketing manager for Imation's Storage Professional Services Group. In other words, to effectively identify the problem you need very detailed information, but the software that will let you manage multiple vendors' products usually can't provide that level of detail.
While the ultimate fix lies with the manufacturers, there are a couple of things storage administrators can do to mitigate the problem. First, Peldzus suggests, design your storage architecture. If you have a well-thought-out storage architecture that defines the sort of equipment you intend to use and sets standards for things like management protocols you will have a basis for evaluating how storage management products will perform in your environment. A poorly considered storage architecture, or no formal storage architecture at all, makes the problem of gathering information worse because the environment is likely to include so many different kinds of products.
The second thing, Peldzus says, is to concentrate on what works most effectively with what you have rather than searching for a product that is all things to all storage administrators. If you're using SNMP to manage your storage, a product's weaknesses with other protocols can be ignored in making your selections, he points out.
The real question, according to Peldzus, is "can I get the information I need with the products and architecture I'm using?" The more detail the software gives you, the easier it will be to identify and fix problems with the storage system.
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About the author: Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.