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Aptare adds SAN change management to SRM suite

Aptare updates its StorageConsole suite of SRM and monitoring tools, adding a Fabric Manager that provides visibility and offers change management for Fibre Channel SANs.

Aptare Inc. today released StorageConsole 8, adding a fabric management application to its suite of storage resource management (SRM) tools.

Aptare StorageConsole Fabric Manager is designed to give administrators greater visibility into their SAN and help them manage changes to the infrastructure. It's the fifth application in the StorageConsole suite, along with Backup Manager, Capacity Manager, Virtualization Manager and Replication Manager. All are available individually or bundled as a suite.

Fabric Manager's SAN mapping capability gives administrators a view of the SAN topology from server to fabric to storage systems. Its change management feature involves performing a dependency analysis based on proposed changes to a SAN. Fabric Manager also sends alerts when it detects changes have been made.

Aptare isn't the first vendor to offer these products across multiple vendors' products. Onaro SANscreen and AppIQ StorageAuthority did some of these features, but NetApp acquired Onaro in 2008 and HP bought AppIQ in 2005, and those products are predominantly used with those vendors' storage. Symantec Corp. also has a Change Manager application as part of its CommandCentral Storage platform.

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Aptare CEO Rick Clark said the goal of the Fabric Manager product is to help organizations deal with how changes to their Fibre Channel (FC) switches and HBAs will affect their entire SAN.

"As soon as you have it working in one configuration, something changes," Clark said. "We expect change and we adapt to change."

For now, Fabric Manager only deals with FC devices, but Clark said Aptare will add support for Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) when they become more prevalent in SANs.

"Our customers are very much Fibre Channel, not FCoE yet," he said. "As the industry changes and embraces more iSCSI and IP-based networks and FCoE, then you will see this product adapt."

Aptare also extended the devices and applications it supports in StorageConsole 8. Backup Manager now supports EMC Avamar, and Capacity Manager adds support for HP EVA, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Virtual I/O (VIO) Server and Oracle Automatic Storage Management (ASM) for Oracle 10g and 11i. Aptare also made StorageConsole dashboards more interactive by using HTML 5.

Clark said Fabric Manager supports all FC switches from Brocade and Cisco Systems, and host bus adapters (HBAs) from Emulex and QLogic. He said pricing for a "typical" medium-sized SAN with approximately 200 FC switch ports supporting 8 Gbps Fibre Channel would be around $25,000 for a perpetual license.

Bob Laliberte, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), said fabric management becomes a more important feature with the recent rise in server virtualization.

"With server virtualization taking off, you have issues with mobility that you didn't have before when you didn't have applications jumping from server to server," he said. "Once you set it up, you were pretty good. Everything's so much more dynamic now.

"If you move a virtual machine from this physical server to that physical server, a lot of times you're not doing that with any consideration to what's going on beneath," Laliberte continued. "Is there enough bandwidth? Will there be contention with storage?"

Laliberte said a lack of good fabric management tools that cover heterogeneous storage environments means administrators are limited to element managers that handle specific devices. "You have to look at all those individual device tools and see what they're saying," he said.

Hitachi Data Systems sells Aptare as part of an OEM deal. The firm's Clark said there is usually about a two-week lag between an Aptare product launch and the Hitachi Data Systems rollout of the product.

As a small independent software company competing with Symantec Corp. and software offerings from storage array vendors, Aptare looks to stay ahead of the curve on new technology trends. A year ago, Aptare added Virtualization Manager to handle VMware and Replication Manager with StorageConsole 7. Clark said Aptare is profitable, with approximately 35% of its revenue coming through Hitachi Data Systems.

"A lot of major storage vendors who have these tools have more incentive to provide it for their own products," ESG's Laliberte said. "A lot of times you need to go beyond that with a higher degree of heterogeneous support."

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