Many companies are implementing storage resource management (SRM) to help optimize existing storage resources. In my opinion, it's a wise decision, because SRM solutions provide numerous benefits -- such as identifying underutilized storage capacity and reducing storage management costs. However, as with any technology investment, a careful requirement assessment and detailed product evaluations are absolutely critical. To ensure that you choose the right solution to meet your company's unique requirements, here are five questions you should ask every SRM vendor during your evaluation process.
1. What is the depth of coverage your solution provides, and what type of information will it give me?
A solid SRM solution should provide the detailed information you need to accurately analyze current operations and plan for the future. Having the ability to immediately visualize your infrastructure's capacity allocation, identify top storage consumers, assess backup performance, determine capacity by application and track media consumption levels is absolutely critical. In order to provide this level of information, the SRM solution should cover applications, file-level detail, DAS, NAS, SANs and the backup environment.
2. What is the breadth of coverage your solution provides, and what type of hardware and software do you support?
Today's storage environments are complex, multivendor infrastructures. You have rightfully chosen hardware and software solutions based on your own requirements, not a vendor's recommendation. An effective SRM solution needs to provide broad multivendor support at every level of the infrastructure. It's not enough to support only Oracle, for instance, because most companies have SQL and DB2 installed as well.
3. How does your solution collect data across multiple geographically dispersed locations?
If your infrastructure is distributed, your SRM solution must scale effectively. This means ensuring that a single copy of the application will scale to collect data from multiple sites and provide a single, consolidated, end-to-end view of the infrastructure. This level of functionality dramatically simplifies storage management, which provides economies of scale for your overall storage management costs. Deploying multiple copies of an SRM solution should not be required.
4. Can I define the way individuals within my company view information, based upon their responsibility in the company?
While the ability to create role-specific views is extremely important, a good SRM solution should expand that capability to include views based on domain responsibility as well. This enables you to ensure that information is shared in a way that preserves your existing organizational structure. For instance, you can give a storage administrator the ability to view information on only site A, or application B, or both, rather than enterprise-wide access.
5. How easy is your solution to deploy, and how secure is it once deployed?
To reduce deployment time and effort, choose SRM solutions with agent data collectors that do not require any system reboots and are compatible with existing software distribution tools. To minimize performance hits, look for solutions with a footprint of less than 5 to 10 megabytes. Regarding security, consider solutions that authenticate and encrypt all communications between agents and databases. Many agents/APIs require username/password combinations. Most security experts consider sending these over the Ethernet network in unencrypted form, a serious security vulnerability.
About the author
Hemant Kurande is Storability Software's CTO.