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Use storage resource management to ease capacity planning pain

Describes how SRM works today, what's in store for storage-as-a-utility model and questions to ask vendors about SRM.

Let's focus on the element of storage management most relevant to determining how much of your storage is utilized and who is consuming it. Today, storage resource management (SRM) predominantly deals with capacity management -- that is, tools that provide current snapshots of storage capacity, trend analysis and quota management. Longer-term SRM will likely become a key feature of policy management that weaves together management consoles, capacity management, and provisioning and automation.

Capacity planning is the most-mentioned pain point for storage managers. Yet a significant number of them haven't deployed SRM products yet. That will change in 2003. SRM is on the short list of must-have tools, since knowing what capacity is used will deliver cost savings for customers trying to better manage their storage systems. Large vendors are rolling out SRM tools today, and over the past six months several startups were snapped up by market heavyweights.

SRM is a foundation technology for moving data center storage environments to a storage services (storage utility) approach. Making storage stakeholders into consumers as well as subscribers to a service approach is gaining traction with larger enterprises setting up IT data centers as service bureaus. It will take more time to reach the broader market, although SRM is quite appealing even without the service deployment strategy. SRM will most certainly be solidly integrated with storage provisioning, some levels of device management, backup management/automation and broad management consoles that capture the overall storage environment.

Architecturally, SRM today focuses on storage capacity and availability. SRM tools include a relational database architecture (some tools still use flat-file architectures), rules-based engines, reporting tools that might include host agents, and reports. Customers can gather information about files, tracking capacity and utilization (as well as trends around it), server availability and backup planning. Increasingly, SRM tools provide metrics that are application specific (for email and databases), or combine intelligent policy management features from storage network management, array or provisioning.

Here are some questions to ask vendors about their SRM products:

  • Integration: How is this SRM product integrated to other tools you currently provide, such as management consoles, provisioning tools and network/array management?

  • Ease of use: How easy is it to generate reports, export data and build custom reports using the data collection capabilities of the vendor's tool?

  • Application-specific features: Does the tool provide specific features and monitoring capabilities for databases and email?

  • Performance thresholds/monitoring: Does the tool capture information about array, database and network performance, as well as historic trends?

  • Chargeback capabilities: How does chargeback work? Does it integrate with billing applications or generate its own invoices?

Got a question about SRM? Post it in the .wSjCaMQfzb9.0@.ee83ce3!viewtype=&skip=&expand=>Storage Management Tips and Tricks discussion forum.

About the author: Jamie Gruener is the primary analyst focused on the server and storage markets for the Yankee Group, an industry analyst firm in Boston, Mass. Jamie's coverage area includes storage management, storage best practices, storage systems, storage networking and server technologies.

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