IBM acquires SRM start-up

By Heidi Biggar

Last week, IBM acquired three-year-old storage resource management (SRM) start-up TrelliSoft for an undisclosed sum. IBM officials say the purchase not only accelerates its stagnant SRM strategy, but also puts the company in a position to capture a slice of this fast-growing software segment--a market the Hurwitz Group forecasts to reach $1.5 billion by 2005.

Analysts say that while the acquisition makes sense on paper (e.g., it fills a long-standing hole in Big Blue's storage management software line-up), the reality may be quite different. One issue is whether the company will be able to fully integrate the technology into the IBM/Tivoli product set.

"Customers are asking for more and more help with managing storage assets and resources," says Robert LeBlanc, general manager, Tivoli Software, IBM. "This acquisition shows our commitment to providing better storage management."

"The acquisition of TrelliSoft finally gives IBM capacity management tools that its customers can use to help them as they consolidate their storage into SANs [storage area networks]," says Carolyn DiCenzo, chief analyst for storage management software at Gartner Inc.

LeBlanc says that TrelliSoft's StorageAlert suite, not IBM's in-house technology, will be the base for future SRM products.

IBM had planned to announce its own--albeit stripped-down--SRM capability later this year. That technology will now reportedly be integrated into the TrelliSoft platform and sold as part of the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) family.

"We major in automation and minor in reporting, and TrelliSoft majors in reporting and minors in automation," says Jose Iglesias, director of Tivoli Storage.

TrelliSoft offers seven different SRM options, including tools for network-attached storage (NAS) and SAN environments. The products can be used to gather trending information for charge-back, capacity planning, and asset reporting, or to simply monitor or report on storage resources and applications.

StorageAlert supports multiple operating systems (e.g., Windows NT/2000, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, and Linux) and various applications, including Oracle, MS SQL Server and Exchange, Sybase, IBM UDB, and Lotus Notes.

By integrating TrelliSoft's reporting software with its own automation capabilities, IBM believes it can differentiate its product line. "It all boils down to proactive versus reactive management," says LeBlanc, "and we expect to do a lot more proactive management."

It is one thing to be able to identify and report on trends (e.g., capacity usage or file types), but it is another thing to then trigger an automated sequence of events based on this information, explains Iglesias. These events likely involve other TSM products, including backup and SAN management.

The goal is not only to report on storage usage or to identify infrequently used files, but also to automatically provision new capacity and automate the archival of those files, respectively. IBM claims it will not only be able to do this, but within a year will be able to automate down to the LUN level.

IBM expects the integration of its SRM product families to be fairly straightforward due to synergies between the two technologies, most notably their heavy reliance on Java and compliance with standard APIs.

Nancy Marrone, an analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group, believes integration will prove challenging and will take time to complete. In the meantime, she says, users may benefit from the additional functionality that SRM brings to the table. "Currently, IBM has some advanced hierarchical storage management features that can be enhanced by adding in the SRM capabilities."

IBM says it plans to announce first products by year-end.

TrelliSoft is based in Glen Ellyn, IL, and has 30 employees. The company claims 35 customers, which range in size from small businesses to large enterprises.

This article was originally published on September 04, 2002