• United States

Storage mgmt. integral to infrastructure mgmt.

Jan 29, 20033 mins
Data CenterSAN

* SANs force merger of storage mgmt. with rest of mgmt.

With the increasing interest in storage-area network technologies and their obvious networking aspect, the lines between storage management and network management have been blurred.

Storage management was traditionally closely aligned with systems management, and for good reason. Storage devices were typically directly attached to systems or dependent upon a server. Storage was inherently dependent on systems because the systems managed the disks and provided much of the intelligence.

SANs combine networking and storage technologies to flexibly deliver storage that is no longer dependent upon discreet systems, but instead is independently available as a part of the infrastructure.

Although there was initially a strong reluctance to accept the melding of the storage and network worlds, the inherent necessity of networking technologies in the technical architecture of SANs forced the issue. As the storage and network IT staffs have begun to speak the same lingo and to work with common elements (such as switches, routers and protocols), this alignment has slowly evolved and continues to evolve.

The net result is that storage management has made a major shift toward network management. In fact, there are traditional networking vendors, such as Cisco, who are moving into the storage market.

Although the new storage architectures are very network-centric, servers and blade servers are still critical pieces of the puzzle. Storage and servers use many similar systems management functions, such as performance management, capacity planning, and so forth.

So rather than shifting between two ends of a spectrum, with network management on one end and systems management on the other, storage management should converge with the other management disciplines.

From a management perspective, storage must be managed as an integral part of the infrastructure – particularly when looking at performance issues. For example, say there is a performance slowdown in the infrastructure. If the network administrator checks out his network, and the system admin checks out his systems, then in parallel the storage admin checks her storage, isolating the problem is so much more difficult and takes much longer.

In many management products, storage is still effectively managed or sold as a separate silo, when it should be an integrated part of the whole. In some cases, the storage management products are sold in parallel with a vendor’s other products and are not integrated with the other management tools in a comprehensive view. Be sure to check this out before buying into a management suite. How can you talk about end-to-end management when storage is all by itself in left field?

Recent developments provide hope that this convergence of storage management with the rest of management is developing. The recent announcement that Veritas is acquiring Precise is a clear sign that at least Veritas sees the value of combining its storage management with the application management capabilities of Precise. The merging of these companies is very complementary, since Precise had already made a move into the storage realm with its prior acquisition of WQuinn. As more companies see the light, and seek to pull storage into the network-systems-applications management fold, we’ll see more mergers and acquisitions.