After years of development, millions in funding and countless PowerPoint slideshows, traditional storage resource management (SRM) software vendors seem to be resigning themselves to the fact that SRM isn't--and probably never will be--the moneymaker they'd hoped for.
Instead, baseline SRM functionality is being bundled with servers and storage, or it's being used to jumpstart more lucrative service engagements.
Case in point: Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced last month that it plans to stop selling its OpenView Storage Area Manager next year and that, going forward, its entire line of ProLiant and HP-UX servers will be bundled with Storage Essentials 1.0, an SRM package HP is OEMing from AppIQ. Storage Essentials integrates with HP's server management tool, Systems Insight Manager.
Or take StorageTek, which is redoubling its efforts around its $900 million Global Services organization. As part of that plan, StorageTek announced last month a new Storage Appraisal service designed to help customers gain a better understanding of their capacity requirements and cost structures. A cornerstone of this service is Global Storage Manager (GSM), SRM software StorageTek picked up with its acquisition of Storability last fall. StorageTek also bundles GSM with its tape libraries.
Then there's Softek, which spent the better part of three years proselytizing its Enterprise Storage Resource Management (ESRM) suite. Recently, the company has gone back to its roots and is now focused on data migration through its mainframe-era TDMF suite. "The market [for SRM] has not inflected," says Steve Murphy, Softek president and CEO. "It's still an early adopter market."
That said, last month IDC reported that the 2004 storage software market as a whole grew year over year at a rate of 16.1%. The SRM category grew even faster, at a 24.7% clip.
But IDC's numbers don't necessarily contradict the basic assumption that the market for SRM is dwindling, says Bill North, IDC's director for storage software research. If all IDC was looking at when it tracked the SRM market was the traditional feature set of discovery, monitoring and utilization, then IDC's numbers would be trending downward, too. Instead, IDC greatly expanded its definition of what constitutes SRM, North says, to include device management, SAN management, provisioning, etc.
Furthermore, the lion's share of the SRM market is dominated by storage systems vendors such as EMC and HP, which exhibited SRM revenue growth last year of 37% and 22%, respectively. That growth generally tracks nicely with their hardware sales, which have also been on the upswing.
All this has led the remaining independent storage management software vendors to retreat from a pure-play SRM focus. "I've always said that SRM is a 'nice to have,' not a 'need to have,'" says Ken Barth, president and CEO of Tek-Tools. The company's Profiler suite of data management modules are based on core SRM technology. "In and of itself, it's not a business driver," he says.
Instead, Tek-Tools is seeing terrific interest in its more specific, value-added applications such as backup reporting, Barth says. According to a recent survey of its customers, backup reporting modules were the entry point into SRM software in 68% of first-time Tek-Tools accounts, he says.
Once one SRM-based app gets its foot in the door, however, others can quickly insinuate themselves into other areas of the company. For example, Barth suggests, customers suffering from failed backups sometimes buy into data classification and data grooming tools as a way to get their backup processes under control. "We really have to piecemeal the product in," he says.
This comes as no surprise to some industry observers. "I've always believed that what the industry calls SRM was going to become commodity software," says Nancy Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, Milford, MA. "Discovery, topology mapping, element management, etc. ... those are just a given."
Microsoft already licenses some basic SRM functionality from Veritas that it includes with its OSes. Sources close to the company say Microsoft is also working on developing its own SRM utilities to replace the Veritas code, although it will be functionally limited to single servers. For an expanded view of an organization's distributed storage resources, users will have to look elsewhere. A Microsoft spokesperson wouldn't comment on this rumor.
So don't get too excited about free SRM, says Hurley. "Greater functionality such as file-level analysis, classification and reporting will definitely be [an] add-on, pay-for functionality," she says. For example, HP's base Storage Essentials will provide discovery, asset status and storage capacity functions, but features such as provisioning and chargeback are optional, added-cost modules.
"The bottom line is that money is, in fact, being spent," says IDC's North, "but it's being spent on tools that actively manage and correct problems, not just discover them."