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How to integrate a storage management platform

Jim Booth

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Jim Booth is our SearchStorage storage administration expert and our newest storage management expert. Jim is director of systems engineering for Creekpath Systems.

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The state of today's data center is a mixture of frameworks, products and tools. It is not just a matter of semantics, but a real integration issue. The overall frameworks such as Remedy for problem management, HP OpenView for system management and NetCool for network management all work together as an operational symphony (or cacophony). Products solve a certain task, such as performance reporting. And tools range from vendor utilities to homegrown scripts. The ultimate goal is to have all of these frameworks, products and tools working together to process information and streamline the daily operations. Today, we will look at the storage management piece of the puzzle and how it plays together with the other data center instruments.

The following questions need to be answered: Where does the storage management platform fit in the working environment? And how does it communicate with the existing frameworks?

To determine the fit, one must work closely with business units, operations and end-users to determine their needs for the storage management platform. Surveys and interviews by storage personnel typically work best. Some questions are:

  • What storage elements require discovery, real-time statistics and alarms?

  • How would an alarm on a storage element enter the existing frameworks?

  • If there is a storage request, how would that information flow from a ticketing system to the storage management platform? Can this enter my chargeback system?

Communication is the next critical element for integration into an existing environment. Some communication methods to consider for a storage management platform are as follows:

  • SNMP: What type of SNMP (Storage Network Management Protocol) information can I transfer between the storage management platform and the other frameworks?

  • CIM: Does the storage management use CIM (Common Information Model) or another evolving standard? If they do, there is a better chance that any manual integration effort will be straightforward (e.g. sending a well-formed XML message to the ticketing system to close a storage request).

  • API: Does the storage management platform exploit the element APIs (application programming interfaces). Again, if standards are being used within the communication process, integration will be much smoother.

In the end, it is the knowledge of the existing operational workflow and the flexibility of the storage management platform's communication interface that will determine the success of the overall integration. Be sure to keep this in mind when evaluating or deploying a storage management platform.

This was first published in January 2003

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