• United States
by Anne Skamarock

A plea for integration

Jan 14, 20033 mins
Data Center

One of the things I enjoy most about working as an analyst at EMA, and I expect anywhere, is there is never a lack of opinion. Don’t think for a second that we agree with one another.  That is the fun part.  However, the one thing we do agree on is the need for integration and consistency between the different management disciplines. We discussed this in the first storage newsletter of 2003 (see editorial links below) and today I’d like to continue that line of thought.

As discussed, IT generally manages its resources in a silo approach, separating the management of networks, applications, systems, and storage. I prefer to take a more holistic view of the environment (it’s the only way to be in Boulder, Colo.,).  However, today, it is very difficult for IT administrators to get this holistic view due to the lack of management software integration.

The whole purpose of management software is to allow IT to better leverage their [expensive] personnel by having the software carry out a portion of the tasks.  Most large companies use some form of umbrella framework, such as HP OpenView, CA Unicenter or Tivoli, to get a big-picture view of the environment. However, such frameworks do not, in and of itself understand the relationships between the components they’re watching. When an alert or alarm is shown/acted upon within the framework, personnel are left to figure out which of the now many “red” components are the cause of the problem and how it is effecting business and/or service-level agreements (SLA).

This is where integration of management disciplines combined with root cause analysis would pinpoint the area of concern, allowing personnel to be more effective and efficient in addressing problems when they arise. A common problem in the storage management “silo” is that network systems have not been backed up properly. Finding out why the backup failed can require a sleuth’s instinct. Did the network fail? Did the software fail? Is the correct version of software even installed on that system? Was the system turned off? These are all common reasons backups fail.  Wouldn’t it be great if the back-up software could interact with the network management software to determine if that network path is healthy or with the systems management software to know the status of the system?

Within the storage management “silo” vendors have started a level of integration with the applications themselves.  This is an important first step, especially with a networked storage infrastructure.  These companies include BMC, EMC, Veritas, Legato, and Tivoli among many others.  It is disappointing, though, that companies who offer a broad range of management capabilities such as BMC, CA, and Tivoli (not to mention the server vendors like Sun and HP) have not integrated their management disciplines even within their product portfolios.

In mid-December, Veritas announced the acquisition of Precise Software and Jareva Technologies. These acquisitions extend the scope of Veritas’ offering to integrate with Precise’s application management and Jareva’s systems management. Once the integration has occurred, IT should have the ability to automate management of business-critical applications thus meeting and exceeding SLAs.

Veritas has moved into the integrated management market through acquisitions. It will be an interesting year, watching how other management companies respond in like.