BY SONIA R. LELII
Three years ago, most of Jim Damoulakis' clients wanted to discuss technology comparisons, such as which vendor had the better disk array or which switch was superior. As CTO of GlassHouse Technologies, a consulting firm and storage services provider, Damoulakis often steered the conversation so that customers would look at how storage was used in their overall environment.
Today, storage consumption continues to grow rapidly and IT managers "can't get to the cause and effect of that growth," says Damoulakis. But IT managers are now under budgetary pressure to better understand their storage environments, which is one of the drivers behind the current acceleration in adoption of storage resource management (SRM) software. Storage administrators are trying to gain more control and discipline as a way to contain costs.
"I would be hard-pressed to find a large organization that isn't considering using SRM," says Damoulakis. "SRM tools give you a better picture of your true utilization."
According to a report from the META Group research and consulting firm, although the initial driver behind SRM adoption is the trend toward consolidation, SRM will increasingly be used throughout storage environments to improve disaster recovery, regulatory compliance, and performance management. "Through 2005, storage resource management will be critical...for all medium and large organizations," states the report. "Lack of focus on SRM will leave risks to data quality...and the business will pass over substantial bottom-line economic benefits."
Jamie Gruener, market manager for SRM and SAN management at IBM, agrees that the use of SRM is a first step in storage managers becoming more focused on the process of storage management. Gruener points to consolidation, data retention, and compliance, as well as overall infrastructure simplification, as the main reasons why more and more users are factoring SRM into their budgets.
"Most customers today are in the early stages of deploying information life-cycle management," says Gruener, who notes that interest in SRM has picked up significantly over the last few quarters. "But first, customers need to assess their data. How is it being used and archived? The challenge is in knowing where the data is."
According to the results of an end--user survey conducted by TheInfoPro, a research firm in New York, SRM topped the "Technology Heat Index," which measures the relative immediacy of IT storage spending plans by technology (see figure). For more information on SRM and the results of TheInfoPro survey, see "User survey: SRM finally takes off," InfoStor, August 2004, p. 1.
According to the META Group report, cost savings is a primary driver for most SRM initiatives, though regulatory compliance is "fast becoming a key motivator for action." The META report states that by implementing SRM, IT organizations can potentially save 15% to 20% in annual storage spending.
Chris Van Wagoner, director of product marketing at CommVault Systems, says his company is seeing a clear uptick in interest from end users investigating SRM tools. Van Wagoner thinks one of the primary reasons is that IT managers are now facing more outside pressure-such as compliance mandates-to understand their storage environments better. "Before, there really wasn't an IT imperative. It was easy to just buy more storage. Today, there is more focus on regulations and compliance. That is making SRM much more valuable," says Van Wagoner.
Softek integrates ESRM, performance tuner
Softek recently announced that it has expanded its Storage Manager suite of enterprise storage resource management (ESRM) products with the addition of a Performance Tuner module. The software enables administrators to better understand and diagnose the performance of storage environments and to return to normal performance levels when problems occur.
Softek's ESRM suite also includes Storage Manager 2.5, Space Optimizer 2.5, and SANView 5.5 SAN management software.
Performance Tuner works by first collecting statistics on server and storage network performance to establish a baseline. Then, when performance levels fall outside the baseline, the software alerts administrators to the problem and delivers a variety of actionable reports. Pricing starts at $3,995.
Softek also announced that the 5.5 version of SANView is compatible with the Storage Networking Industry Association's SMI-S management standard.