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Storage newcomers deliver on predecessors’ promises

CDP and DPRM software are relative storage newcomers, but they may be the software that finally delivers on the promises of their SRM and storage virtualization software predecessors.

Storage resource management (SRM) and storage virtualization software have taken their turns sharing the storage spotlight over the past few years but have, for the most part, largely failed to deliver on their promise. Though companies may use them in some tactical way, such as doing LUN masking, fabric zoning or data migrations, neither has really delivered the simplified, automated storage management environments that vendors promised and customers hoped they would.

Working for a company that tried both, my company saw the strategic value that both SRM and storage virtualization software could deliver but never could figure out a way to turn that promise into a reality. For when push came to shove, it became almost impossible to find a risk-averse and profitable way to transition from Excel-based FC SAN management to SAN management based on the use of these two software tools.

What my company needed, and what is still needed, is a method to segue from FC SANs managed by Excel spreadsheets to the introduction of SRM and storage virtualization software without a rip-and-replace strategy. So, it was while I was evaluating the latest generations of data protection and recovery management (DPRM) software and continuous data protection (CDP) software that I may have stumbled across a way for companies to make this transition.

Companies usually bring DPRM software in-house to report on the success and failures of backup jobs. Though DPRM software still does that, DPRM software is quickly expanding to monitor and report on other components of the backup infrastructure, including server performance, fabric switches and virtual and physical tape libraries. Though the impetus for offering these features is to better troubleshoot systemic problems in the backup infrastructure as well as do capacity planning, companies are inadvertently using DPRM software in much the same way SRM software was intended.

A similar pattern is emerging with CDP software at the high-end, with products such as EMC’s RecoverPoint, HP’s CIC and Symantec’s CDP/R. These CDP software appliances install into FC SAN fabrics and operate just like the original FC SAN-based storage virtualization products except CDP appliances journal all writes and are only used when production storage fails. But other than these characteristics, they are essentially the same as the original FC SAN-based storage virtualization appliances.

The reason users are now willing to introduce either CDP or DPRM software into their production environments is that they no longer feel like they are risking their production applications or stretching their budgets for products whose value proposition is dubious. CDP and DPRM products solve immediate corporate pain points, are justified with existing dollars and require less risk — a win for both the vendors and the users.

Now the question is, will CDP and DPRM software eventually evolve to assume responsibilities that their SRM and storage virtualization software predecessors never really delivered on in the minds of customers? My guess is yes.

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