Software vendors move toward unified management

By Heidi Biggar

CommVault enters market, Veritas integrates

A recent InfoStor QuickVote reader poll reveals a growing trend in the industry: Users are increasingly looking for ways to consolidate their storage management portfolios.

When asked if they would like to be able to integrate their multiple storage software products into a single platform, 81% of respondents said they would, while 19% said they would not (see figure).

Users want to unify data and storage management under a single, integrated management interface, says Chris Van Wagoner, director of marketing at CommVault. The alternative is to piece together a variety of point products for various tasks (e.g., backup, migration, SAN management, resource management, etc.). This approach significantly increases complexity and also increases the number of copies of data to be managed, says Van Wagoner.

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Other vendors making strides in this area include BMC Software, Computer Associates, EMC, Fujitsu Softek, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun, Veritas, and a slew of start-ups.

Last month, Computer Associates shipped its BrightStor Portal, EMC automated key storage management functions, Fujitsu Softek continued to assemble management pieces, IBM acquired TrelliSoft (a storage resource management software vendor), and Veritas announced SANPoint Control 3.5.

But while there is plenty of activity on the vendor front, end-user adoption remains low primarily due to the relative immaturity of the market, as well as constrained budgets.

"There's a lot of interest among end users in these products, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're buying them. These things aren't cheap," explains Anders Lofgren, a senior analyst with the Giga Information Group.

Betting on the future of this market, CommVault this month made the leap beyond backup and recovery into storage management with the announcement of QiNetix, an integrated data management suite for LAN, storage area network (SAN), and network-attached storage (NAS) environments. It is based on the company's Galaxy backup-and-recovery platform.

The software, which will be rolled out in phases over the next year, provides a unified view of data in five areas: backup and recovery, migration and archiving, storage resource management (SRM), device management, and replication. These disciplines share common metadata, which, among other things, facilitates active communication among the five areas and makes integration possible.

QiNetix virtualizes storage media into a shared pool and then abstracts storage-related components (e.g., servers, libraries, switches, disk volumes, applications, etc.) into objects, which can then be managed as policies.

This allows users to view and manage data as a unified whole, automate key functions (e.g., discovery, monitoring, aggregation, availability, and access) based on policies, track qualitative attributes of data from applications to devices, and share storage resources.

QiNetix works in Windows, Linux, and Unix environments, and with Oracle, SQL Server, Exchange, Active Directory, Notes, Informix, SharePoint Portal Server, and various file systems.

Available with Galaxy 4.1 are a variety of new backup options (e.g., zero-impact backup, disk-based backup, media management, and reporting capabilities), QiNetix Data Migrator (QDM), and QiNetix Quick Recovery (QR).

QDM is a stand-alone data migration product for e-mail. It migrates messages and/or attachments to secondary storage (disk, tape, or optical) and makes auxiliary copies for disaster recovery or business continuance purposes.

QR enables data/application recovery using snapshot technology. CommVault claims that QR is less disruptive than traditional backup because applications are quiesced before data is snapped.

QR is integrated with Galaxy and provides users with a single view of snapshots (created by CommVault or third-party snapshot technology), Quick Recovery Volumes (applications or data sets), and backup copies. (For a product road map of QiNetix products, see "at a glance" box.)

Veritas pushes forward

Criticized for its lack of product integration, Veritas last month made a formal shift in its approach to storage management with the announcement of SANPoint Control 3.5.

The jump from Version 2.1 to 3.5 reflects a move from point products to integrated solutions, says Jonathan Martin, Veritas' director of product management. SANPoint Control is a key component of the company's Adaptive Storage Architecture (ASA).

The latest release allows for continuous active discovery, real-time monitoring and management of DAS, SAN, and tape environments from the application level down to the device level with a single interface (see figure). It does so by correlating discovered object data into a central data store.

"Users want to be able see the path between applications and storage and set policies to manage that path," says Martin.

Veritas integrates key storage disciplines under SANPoint Control/ASA architecture.
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"We can discover Veritas, Oracle, and Exchange applications and map the associated resources," Martin explains. "And we deliver automatic storage provisioning and file-system growth to hosts running Veritas Foundation Suite [which includes Veritas Volume Manager, File Server, Cluster Server, and NetBackup]."

SANPoint Control 3.5 allows users to automate everyday tasks and take corrective action. Examples include storage provisioning, billing, and chargeback.

The release also adds 100 new SRM reports, which provide predictive, utilization, performance, and summary statistics. (See "at a glance" box on p. 20 for pricing information.)

Unisys simplifies SAN management

Last month, Unisys introduced Storage Sentinel, a storage appliance designed to make it easier for users to see what's going on in their storage area network (SAN) environments.

"We needed a mechanism that would simplify management and make it easy for users to make better use of underutilized assets," explains Jim Thompson, director of Unisys' Sentinel and ClearPath product lines.

Storage Sentinel aggregates networked storage into a virtualized pool, using technology licensed from StoreAge, and manages that storage from a common management interface. This allows users to view, assess, and re-allocate storage capacity as necessary. The result, Thompson claims, is significantly higher storage utilization.

The software also integrates snapshot, striping, and mirroring capabilities.

The appliance is a 19-inch 3U-high cabinet that comes with two Brocade 3800 switches, two Intel servers running StoreAge's out-of-band virtualization, and 2TB of disk capacity. Pricing is $200,000, which includes support services.

This article was originally published on October 01, 2002