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Storage resource management -- Riding herd on all your storage

By Rick Cook

While Storage Resource Management (SRM) software has been around for a long time -- especially in mainframes -- new software lets organizations manage heterogeneous storage pools with multiple operating systems, multiple servers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. That makes it worth a close look, especially for enterprises with lots of storage in lots of places.

SRM manages the storage devices themselves as well as the logical objects. It tracks disks, files, capacity trends and disk utilization over the network as well as things like applications and databases. SRM's biggest advantages are in capacity planning and spotting problems with drives and arrays before something crashes.

The new products from companies like HighGround, Legato and EMC subsidiary Softworks can handle storage under more than one operating system (especially NT and various flavors of Unix), and have the ability to monitor and manage multiple servers. Most of the new products can also handle NAS.

Typically the products generate reports on a wide variety of storage metrics as well as tracking storage utilization and spotting trends. Many of them can generate alarms at signs of potential failure or a disk or partition filling up.

This last is especially important in active Web sites where log files tend to grow explosively. SRM vendor Astrum Software indicates this was the cause of the well-publicized crash of Charles Schwab's Web trading operation in February of 1999. Astrum says the Schwab system crashed because a log file filled its partition, taking the system down.

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Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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