Several software developers recently unveiled new versions of their products in the fast-growing storage resource management (SRM) market. End-user adoption of SRM tools is taking off rapidly as many IT organizations want to use their expensive storage resources more efficiently.

SRM vendors are adding new features and platform support and are implementing policy-based management for operational management of storage. “I think that there will be a tendency over time to go to policy-based management. That’s a trend that many organizations are starting to advocate,” says David Hill, research director of storage and development at the Aberdeen Group consulting firm, in Boston.

SRM products treat storage as “resources” that must be managed efficiently and effectively. The software manages both the physical storage products (e.g., disk arrays and tape libraries) as well as the data itself. SRM enacts, among other functions, policy-based management for efficient storage use. For example, a policy may be set up to automatically migrate all files that have not been accessed for three months. SRM can also include space-usage management, capacity planning, asset management, business continuity reporting, and operational management. (See “In-depth: Storage Resource Management,” InfoStor, June 2001, p. 28.)

Astrum Software recently released version 4.2 of StorCast for the Enterprise and introduced StorCast Migration Solution. StorCast is designed to manage and optimize storage usage in Windows 2000/NT and Unix environments and uses a proprietary technology that can scan up to 2TB per minute of Windows NT/2000 storage and system resources. The software also features a remote agent installation procedure.

StorCast Migration Solution is a combination of Astrum’s SRM technology and its services for evaluating storage and system infrastructure, providing usage, trend, and file reports to detail what data can and should be migrated. It also identifies system requirements for supporting server consolidation.

The newest version of BMC Software’s Patrol Storage Management Suite adds cost accounting and capacity planning features as well as application support for Sybase, MS Exchange, and Siebel. Using the cost accounting function, administrators can calculate storage costs, amounts to be charged back, or percentages of assets used by an application, file system, or server. The results can be exported to third-party financial accounting systems. Patrol uses an enhanced capacity-planning wizard to predict the overall amount of storage required in a specific environment. Historical data can be analyzed at the file system, server, or storage subsystem level. Administrators can export capacity planning results and graphs to third-party reporting systems.

Northern Parklife, which specializes in Windows NT/2000 system administration, recently announced Quota Server Admin+ and Quota Server 5.3. Quota Server Admin+ lets system administrators remotely set quotas on space allocated to a drive, directory, file, and/or individual. It also integrates with Tivoli, CA UniCenter, Hewlett-Packard OpenView, or Windows Explorer. Quota Server 5.3 features SNMP support.

In September, Sun released its first SRM software since acquiring HighGround earlier this year. Storage Resource Manager 5.0 supports Oracle and Sybase and consolidates views and alerts of global servers. A global reporting option unifies and centralizes the data collected from multiple servers. Using this data, IT administrators can monitor storage service levels and quality of service by tracking storage growth enterprise-wide. In addition, the software crosslinks database storage reports with file system reports. All storage can be managed from a single browser.

Leveraging its expertise in XML, SRM newcomer Tek-Tools has introduced its first SRM product-Storage Pro filer 1.1. A Web-based SRM application, Storage Profiler provides reports on usage and performance trends at the disk, user, file system, and partition levels for Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows NT/2000, Novell, NetWare, and Oracle. A real-time event console provides descriptions of SNMP traps and suggested corrective actions for incoming alerts. The tool supports proactive monitoring of direct-attached storage, network-attached storage, and storage area network components and supports BEA WebLogic, MS Exchange, and Oracle database monitoring.

In October, TrelliSoft added a new platform support and features to its SRM software. StorageAlert/DB for Oracle manages storage with a focus on applications and databases. The software also supports Windows, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, and Linux.

TrelliSoft also integrated Storage Chargeback invoicing software into its SRM suite. The product generates invoices based on storage usage information gathered from its StorageAlert/OS and StorageAlert/DB products. Storage costs can be allocated by storage usage per user, disk capacity by computer, tablespace, or file system/physical device.

Precise Software’s WQuinn division recently released version 5.0 of its StorageCentral SRM for policy-based control of enterprise Windows storage. The software leverages Microsoft Active Directory to centrally locate and propagate SRM policies such as space allocations, blocked file types, and reporting. It writes storage policy definitions inside Active Directory to mandate storage policy automation across the enterprise. Also featured is RapidScan technology for running reports on file metadata stored in the NTFS master file table. The software also includes a Web user interface based on Microsoft’s .Net interface standard.

SRM goes beyond passive reporting

With the introduction this month of SpaceNet, its newest storage resource management (SRM) product, TeraCloud is trying to move SRM beyond being a passive reporting tool and into an active communication technology, according to company officials.

SpaceNet works in OS/390, z/OS, Unix, Linux, and Windows 2000/NT environments, as well as network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) topologies. Delivered as an appliance, SpaceNet comprises three main modules: an SQL database running on an NT server, a smart agent for “active” communication between the host and the server, and a Web-based client interface.

Delivery in the appliance form factor helps achieve scaling, minimizes impact on the storage environment, and minimizes overhead for maintenance and support, says Robert F. Bingham, chief marketing officer at TeraCloud.

SpaceNet provides real-time access to storage such as distributed disks, RAID, directories, and files. A real-time browser provides interactive access with storage servers and hosts, while agent technology allows real-time monitoring, trapping, and managing of system storage. A search utility also provides for interactive managing and reporting on remote storage systems.

“We’re moving SRM from being a passive technology to being an active communications technology,” says Bingham. “The appliance server communicates real-time with the agents and manages policies in real-time, not by snapshot.”

SpaceNet is priced at $30,000 per managed terabyte.

NTP Software, which introduced StorageReporter Version 3.0 in November, claims that it, too, is moving SRM beyond passive reporting capabilities into a more proactive management tool.

StorageReporter develops reports based on information from heterogeneous file systems. Various reports on usage and consumption, as well as trending and forward projection analysis, can be generated. When combined with NTP’s Quota and File Sentinel, the software forms a “self-managing” storage environment, which includes automating storage usage policies and quotas. If a user is close to exceeding capacity, the user is alerted and taken to an intranet site and is then given various options to request more space.

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