SRM activity picks up

By Lisa Coleman

A number of storage resource management (SRM) product announcements over the last couple of months indicate increased end-user interest in a product category that some analysts predict will top $4 billion by 2006. Analysts say SRM will grow rapidly because it not only helps enterprises control how users access and use storage resources, but it also provides ways to reduce costs and improve management efficiency.

In the past year, SRM vendors have been hot properties. IBM acquired TrelliSoft, Veritas bought an SRM product from NTP Software and is finalizing its acquisition of Precise Software, Overland Storage partnered with Astrum Software for its entry into the SRM market, and analysts say that the few remaining independent SRM companies are prime acquisition targets.

Most SRM products focus on storage usage reporting, performance reporting, chargeback, policy management, policy-based automation, and quota management. Many SRM vendors are now billing their products as "active SRM" based on automated policies.

Even hardware vendors are recognizing the need for enhanced SRM tools. For example, Network Appliance is working with a number of SRM vendors to broaden SRM functionality for NetApp filers and to extend support beyond the company's network-attached storage (NAS) hardware.

"Our customers were interested in solutions that can provide SRM capability for NetApp filers and also provide the same capability for Windows environments and other vendors' storage devices," says Suresh Vasudevan, senior director of software product marketing at Network Appliance.

Network Appliance made its APIs available to several SRM vendors. For example, Precise Software recently announced a new release of its StorageCentral SRM software for NetApp's entire line of NAS devices, including the FAS900.

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Precise's StorageCentral 5.1 is policy-based SRM software that allows administrators to, for example, set quota thresholds so that when a maximum quota is hit, the software will prohibit any additional I/O on behalf of certain defined objects. These are enforced in "real-time" through I/O filter technology. The software also lets administrators determine which files can be written to a device and will automatically prohibit "banned" files from being written to a filer. In addition, the software produces reports on storage usage, chargeback, trends, wasted space, and backup capacity requirements.

Another vendor that is working with Network Appliance and is offering NAS support for NFS and CIFS is TeraCloud. Its SpaceNet 3.0 SRM software has an enhanced customizable user interface and also provides greater visibility into storage area networks (SANs) than previous versions.

"With NFS and CIFS we can support EMC's Celerra and any Windows-based NAS server," says Bob Bingham, vice president of marketing at TeraCloud.

Last year, Astrum Software partnered with Overland Storage and is providing software for two of Overland's product families (Overland SRM and SAN Planner). Overland recently announced a new version of its SRM software that features cross-platform intelligent actions, application agents, a Web management console, external scripts, and increased security.

Astrum recently added support for Sybase databases. (Its SRM software already supported Oracle databases and Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server.) Administrators can apply thresholds, and the software can determine how different areas of the application are growing for trending and threshold use.

Tek-Tools has added SQL Server support to its Storage Profiler 2.5 SRM software. Last year, Tek-Tools added functionality for DNS monitoring, uptime monitoring, scheduled reports, duplicate files, enterprise reports, and SANs. It also announced a relationship with EMC to support Symmetrix and Clariion disk arrays. Storage Profiler Backup has been certified with Computer Associates' BrightStor ARCserve 2000 backup software.

Storability Software released version 3.5 of its Global Storage Manager (GSM) with a focus on workflow automation and enhanced storage provisioning. Storability added a workflow automation wizard to simplify provisioning of storage, volumes, and volume expansion. The provisioning feature is supported across EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, and StorageTek arrays. A backup wizard lets users customize their own backup reports.

The GSM v3.5 also provides enhanced views for backup/restore management, tape capacity planning, and disaster recovery. Customized reports can be scheduled for automated delivery. Storability also added policy-based alerting so that pre-determined capacity utilization thresholds would not be exceeded without a warning message via e-mail or pages. In addition, there is an automatic identification of misconfigured or unused storage capacity.

Finally, Computer Associates plans to update its BrightStor SRM software with support for EMC and Hitachi Data Systems arrays. General availability is expected in July.

This article was originally published on March 01, 2003