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Tivoli bolsters its SRM presence

Tivoli, the storage software arm of IBM, is prepping a new set of storage resource management offerings and making enhancements to its SAN Manager and Storage Manager products.

IBM has a number of storage management software offerings up its sleeve and will lay them out at the IBM DeveloperWorks...

Live conference next month in New Orleans.

Understanding the relationship between SAM, SRM and virtualization Alternate Head: Deconstructing SAM, SRM, virtualization
So, how can you distinguish storage area management (SAM) software from storage resource management (SRM) and virtualization? asked Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst for Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, to define each of the three technologies. Here's what she had to say:

Storage area management (SAM) solutions primarily do topology discovery and mapping of the SAN (the elements and the interconnections). A SAM product will monitor the health of those elements and the connections; some can monitor the performance of the network itself. Currently, the only real actions taken by standard SAM solutions are alerting and alarming based on predefined thresholds being exceeded, or elements (ports, arrays) going down or becoming unavailable.

Storage resource management (SRM) applications provide a view of the available storage resources from a capacity perspective. SRM applications do discovery, but at a different level; they will discover the element, but then determine the amount of capacity used, amount of free space, type of files being stored, etc. This gives the user a comprehensive view of the capacity and usage patterns. SRM applications can alert when disks are full or reaching capacity, or if a user tries to save certain types of files, like MP3s. They can also provide long-term usage reports.

Virtualization applications are used to create logical storage pools. These applications provide a layer of abstraction between the servers and the storage arrays, taking physical storage devices and turning them into logical pools, which can be shared amongst multiple, heterogeneous hosts. The purpose of virtualization is to be able to share storage resources. The pooling is transparent to the hosts. Many virtualization vendors provide services like mirroring and remote data copy, again, transparent to the host.

All of these applications can work together for effective management of the storage network. They are very complementary.

Among the new products on tap from Big Blue are SRM Express, a desktop storage resource management (SRM) product, application support for WebSphere 5.0, Linux agents for SAN Manager and zLinux support for Tivoli Storage Manager. Tivoli will also support subsystem provisioning via the Bluefin specification and reporting capabilities at the file system level.

The products were born out of an IBM acquisition last year. In an effort to speed its entry into the SRM space, IBM acquired TrelliSoft Inc., a Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based software maker.

TrelliSoft's product family included a suite of seven management tools in its StorageAlert product line. These tools can combine the monitoring and reporting of storage capacities and events across any server platform.

Michael McCarthy, director of Tivoli Software, said that, at this point, there is "no clear market leader in SRM."

"The new SRM software allows [users] to analyze what they've backed up and what they haven't backed up and points out data that might be at risk," McCarthy said.

McCarthy also said Tivoli has developed dynamic reconfiguration capabilities in Tivoli Storage Manager, including re-mapping storage, and streamlined the install process for SAN Manager. "What used to take days now takes hours," he said.

SRM was all the rage two years ago, but it never took off as some analysts had predicted.

Mike Karp, a senior analyst at Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates Inc., said that SRM has been slow to catch on because IT managers have been afraid to let go of the reins. "They often don't realize that the reins they are holding aren't really guiding the horses any more and probably never were," he said.

Karp said the demand for SRM will accelerate this year. "Many storage sites have reached near-critical mass already, and essentially none of the data and few of the assets are actually managed," Karp said. "Also, an increasing number of companies are offering automated management solutions, which will enable sites to do much more with their current IT staffs."

Tivoli's McCarthy said his group has been focused on integrating its management products with IBM's systems group for the past 18 months.

Tivoli said its SRM software is priced on a per-processor basis.

In January, IBM merged its storage systems group and its server group.

When asked about the decision to bring the groups together, IBM spokesman Sandra Dressel said that IBM initially broke off its storage division with a "startup mentality" in order to level the competitive playing field. Dressel said that IBM has achieved what it needed to with its storage business as a separate entity.

"Three years ago, we separated storage from the server group because we felt we were really behind EMC and everyone else," Dressel said.

Dressel said that combining the groups will give IBM three clearly defined groups: hardware, software and services.

The IBM DeveloperWorks Live conference runs from April 9 to 11.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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