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SD '04: Users pick SRM tools to manage diverse storage

Getting control of heterogeneous storage is a common goal among users, but there are many roads to the right SRM vendor.

CHICAGO -- For the panel of four users discussing storage management tools here on Tuesday, the objective is the...

same: Get their heterogeneous environments under one pane of glass. But even though everyone had the same task at hand, they all chose different vendors for different reasons.

Graeme Hay of Computer Sciences Corp., an IT outsourcer, works exclusively on the company's Motorola account. Working as an outsourcer, Hay has to adapt quickly to heterogeneous environments. With Motorola, Hay walked into a five petabyte (PB) environment with technologies from EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Inc. (HDS), Sun Microsystems Inc., McData and Brocade. "It was a real Noah's Ark situation and we needed storage management," Hay said.

After a lengthy evaluation that took most of 2003, Hay went with Creekpath Systems Inc. for its "discovery, reporting and provisioning capabilities." Because the Motorola environment is heterogeneous, Hay ruled out EMC, HDS and Hewlett-Packard Co. "That left Creekpath, AppIQ, Softek and a few others," Hay said. "But it was Creekpath's ability to prevent overprovisioning that set it apart."

Lars Linden, principal at State Street Global Advisors, an institutional investment firm, was concerned with managing a heterogeneous storage, but he also wanted a vendor with the same vision as his company. "Vision is more important to me than features and functions," he said. "We looked for a vendor with similar ideas, who knows that we are going to grow and change."

Ultimately, Linden settled on EMC's Control Center product because EMC had the vision, "although it's not great with heterogeneity." To help on that end, Linden also uses AppIQ StorageAuthority Suite, which offers heterogeneous storage management.

The users on the panel had varied criteria for what they wanted from their storage management software. Mark Dixon, vice president of technology services at the Chicago Board of Trade evaluated 10 vendors based on their compatibility with his existing environment, their auto-discovery and reporting capabilities, their ability to handle growth and even their look and feel.

He chose the CommandCentral product from Veritas Software Corp. It was the product's ability to manage diverse storage and also trust of the vendor that sealed the deal. "We didn't want to be tied to an EMC or HDS solution," said Dixon. "We've also had a great relationship with Veritas for years."

An existing relationship with a vendor also guided the choice of Jerome Wendt, senior storage administrator at First Data Corp., a credit card processing company. First Data stores 150 TB and growing in data centers all over the world. Wendt evaluated Storability Inc., IBM and Softek Storage Solutions Corp., asking questions such as: What's your vision? Are you financially viable? Do you have tape reporting capabilities?

"It was close, but we went with Softek's Storage Manager," Wendt said. "We had a strong partnership already, but Softek had the most intuitive interface and was easier to manage than the others."

Panel moderator Nancy Hurley, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), ended with comments that may be music to the ears of startups. "These are large companies with lots of data, but they want software independence and will go with younger companies if it will keep them from being tied to a storage vendor."

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