By Heidi Biggar
It's no longer a question of who has an automated resource management (ARM) product, but who doesn't—or more importantly, who has the richest capability. Over the last several months, auto-provisioning has become a must-have "check-off" item on vendor software matrices.
Last month, Hewlett-Packard struck its name from the "don't have" list when it announced the availability of HP OpenView Storage Provisioner, an auto-provisioning tool for storage area network (SAN) environments.
But while Hewlett-Packard is one of the first major systems vendors to provide an auto-provisioning tool, Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group (ESG), says IBM Tivoli still has the best integrated automated solution, though it won't actually ship an auto-provisioning product until sometime early next year.
"BMC, EMC, HP, and Veritas all have plans to provide fully automated integrated solutions, including storage network management [SNM], storage resource management [SRM], and automated data management, but no one is there yet," says Marrone.
What sets IBM Tivoli apart from its competitors isn't just the breadth of its automated capabilities (it is currently shipping the industry's first automated data management and automated data archiving products), but how it plans to integrate all these pieces into its enterprise management family, explains Marrone.
"Their goal is to have all those applications [storage and system] interact in a way that enables the correlation of data so that an end user not only understands how an event affects the storage environment, but also how it impacts the business as a whole."
Marrone says that from a breadth of functionality perspective, HP Storage Provisioner seems to be on par with EMC Automated Resource Manager. "EMC is strong in EMC environments; HP will be strong in HP/Compaq environments."
The challenge for both will be to further broaden their disk, tape, and application support through additional application programming interface (API) agreements or compliancy with developing management standards.
(For a list of vendors shipping ARM software, see "ARM software saves time, money," InfoStor, November 2002, p.1. For more about APIs/standards, see "Time for a management standards 'reality check,' " p. 1.)
Announced this fall, EMC Automated Resource Manager supports most operating systems (Solaris, HP-UX, IBM-AIX, and Windows), works in DAS or SAN environments, and can be used to provision storage on all EMC Clariion, EMC Symmetrix, and HP StorageWorks arrays, as well as JBOD. Automated Resource Manager also supports DB2 and Oracle.
Similarly, Storage Provisioner supports all major operating systems and works in SAN environments with HP HSB HSG80/60 and Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) systems. It does not yet support HP XP arrays or non-HP platforms.
ARM software is a new category of storage management software recently defined by the Enterprise Storage Group. ARM products are distinguished from SRM products by their ability to auto-provision capacity based on user-defined policies.
BMC, CreekPath, EMC, Fujitsu Softek, IBM Tivoli, Veritas, and Storability all either currently offer ARM products or will do so by the end of the first quarter. There are other vendors (e.g., InterSAN) that are able to auto-provision storage but don't have the necessary SRM capability to be considered an ARM vendor.
Auto-provisioning software can save end users valuable time and money by streamlining the manual task of assigning and monitoring capacity usage in SAN, DAS, and network-attached storage (NAS) environments.
According to Don Langeberg, director of marketing for HP's network storage solutions group, end users can reduce the lengthy process of provisioning storage to just one step and the overall time it takes to complete the process from hours to just minutes.
That can translate into huge cost-savings, says Langeberg, who gives the example of a storage administrator accustomed to manually provisioning 4,000 LUNs each year. "At $70 per hour [an average storage administrator salary], users can save up to $250,000 in per year in 'soft' storage costs [i.e., time that can be redirected to real business issues] by auto-provisioning storage."
Other benefits of this type of software include the ability to prevent over-provisioning, reduce human error and system error, minimize the overall risk involved with repetitive tasks, and allocate storage resources according to business objective and quality-of-service policies.
Pricing for HP OpenView Storage Provisioner starts at $20,000. The software is currently available.