Simplifying Storage Management

By | August 8, 2006

An overly complex SRM “stack” also reduces business agility by making it harder to expand, reduce or redeploy storage capacity as companies deploy new applications, create new business partnerships or find new ways to distribute, share and analyse data.

Unified approach

A far more effective approach is the use of a high-level SRM solution, which is tightly integrated with tools that provide detailed information, and configuration capabilities, about elements deep within the hardware stack. This gives managers a consistent and coherent view of their storage infrastructure from a single management interface, and combines the overall view of higher-level SRM applications with the power and flexibility of the software used to manage individual hardware elements.

One example would be integrating the software used to manage an HBA with an SRM tool that can view and manage the entire storage infrastructure, for example, Emulex’s HBAnyware 3.0 is used for managing HBAs, but integrates with leading SRM solutions. This allows a storage manager, from the same SRM environment, to both view their overall infrastructure, and to perform detailed tasks such as updating the firmware on every HBA in their environment.

The benefits of this integrated, centralised approach include lower administrative costs; increased storage efficiency and lower capital expenses; greater business agility and a reduced burden on over-stretched and limited storage administrators.

In looking for such “integrated” stacks, many customers will have already chosen their overall SRM environment. If they have not, they should look for how well it supports the SRM features (such as discovery, automation and event reporting) that are most critical to them now and in the future. For the lower-level software for managing the individual storage elements, they should look for detailed diagnostics, the ability to provide centralised management, and the ease of use and reduced training requirements that result from close integration with the overall SRM environment.

Summary

Networked storage infrastructures are becoming more complex all the time, encompassing a greater variety of storage arrays, servers and network topologies. Each of the elements in this infrastructure, such as switches, HBAs and arrays are gaining more intelligence, which requires more and better management of each of those elements.

Customers can try to manage their storage environments by adding layer upon layer of storage tools to their storage infrastructure, but this only adds to the complexity and cost that networked storage is supposed to reduce. With each new “point” management solution that makes it harder to manage, configure and secure its storage, the enterprise becomes less efficient and less agile.

Customers should instead demand that their storage vendors deliver “element-level” management tools that provide both highly detailed management of individual storage components such as HBAs, switches and arrays, and that also integrate tightly with high-level SRM tools. With a centralised, consistent “single pane of glass” storage managers can reduce both their capital and operational expenses, and deliver the most business value from their networked storage infrastructures.

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