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EMC ProSphere SRM software gets beefed-up capacity management

With ProSphere 1.5, EMC adds capacity management with improved monitoring and reporting to its storage resource management tool.

EMC today upgraded its ProSphere storage resource management software for Vmax and VNX storage arrays, adding capacity management features with a greater focus on virtual environments than the prior version.

EMC ProSphere first launched last July as the eventual successor to the EMC ControlCenter (ECC) storage management application. Kevin Gray, EMC manager of storage resource management marketing, said the new management tool is required because of the rise of virtualization in the data center and the emergence of the cloud for storage.

While the first ProSphere release concentrated on performance management, EMC ProSphere 1.5 focuses on capacity monitoring -- a more traditional SRM feature. ProSphere 1.5 supports EMC Fully Automated Storage Tiering for Virtual Pools (FAST VP) auto-tiering software and adds new capacity management dashboards and reporting capabilities. The SRM tool is designed to help customers better understand dependencies between applications and storage services; analyze performance issues that can affect service-level agreements (SLAs); and analyze how capacity is used according to SLA, location and array. Unlike ECC, ProSphere is agentless.

“Virtualization introduces levels of extraction that you need new tools to understand,” Gray said. “Besides server virtualization with VMware, there’s new storage technologies, like automoted tiering and thin provisioning, that you have to see and manage. We wanted to provide a tool that helps you quickly analyze your environment and understand what capacity is being used and how.”

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Senior Analyst Bob Laliberte agreed that new virtualization technologies have changed the game for storage management.

“ECC is getting long in the tooth,” Laliberte said. “You’re not just managing the storage anymore. ProSphere was specifically targeted to the virtualization stack and end-to-end performance, looking at tighter interdependencies between the storage, networking and server groups. EMC started with performance and added capacity management with this release.”

EMC claims ProSphere can manage more than 1.1 million volumes, 36,000 SAN ports and 18,000 hosts. It lets customers analyze performance of their hosts through their storage arrays.

Gray said integration with FAST helps customers optimize their tiering policies for solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard drives. He said FAST has built-in monitoring at the storage group level, while ProSphere can measure application performance at the host level.

ProSphere support is limited to EMC’s Vmax enterprise arrays and VNX unified storage platforms, but Gray said the vendor plans to eventually add support for other vendors’ arrays.

While ProSphere will replace ECC at some point, ECC remains available and Gray said he expects early ProSphere customers to use both applications. He said ECC will likely remain on the market for 18 months to two years. ProSphere is priced by array and capacity, with the list price beginning at $3,500. It is free to ECC customers under a maintenance agreement.

Laliberte said he expects many shops to continue using ECC for a time because “storage teams tend to be conservative. If ECC is set up and working well, they will be reluctant to change. Over time, they will adopt [ProSphere] as they upgrade their infrastructure and consolidate data centers.” He said obvious times to switch would be when an organization purchases a new storage array or goes to a highly virtualized environment.

EMC also touts ProSphere as a cloud storage management tool, but its function for cloud storage is limited to private clouds running on Vmax and VNX. The new version includes a report that can show capacity allocated to a host for chargeback or “showback” purposes, and it has a built-in search engine for objects built on a REST interface.

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