HP to unify server and storage management

By Heidi Biggar

Hewlett-Packard recently announced plans to develop a unified server/storage management platform. According to HP officials, the decision to integrate server and storage management was made more than a year ago after it had completed the integration of disparate server management tools resulting from its acquisition of Compaq.

Compaq Systems Insight Manager, which now goes by the name of HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM), is the single management tool that users will eventually be able to use to manage both HP and non-HP server and storage environments. HP SIM 4.2 is now being shipped at no cost with all HP storage systems and servers.

HP Server Essentials (formerly ProLiant Essentials) and Storage Essentials plug into the SIM framework and enable a variety of server and storage management functions. Both sets of tools are managed from the SIM 4.2 platform, and SIM can be integrated up into the HP OpenView platform.

Both HP SIM and Storage Essentials are built on standards such as J2EE, SMI-S, WBEM, and WMI, so they support heterogeneous storage devices and software applications.

HP expects to complete the server/storage integration process over the next few months. The first phase, which was completed last month, involved the release of an initial set of Storage Essentials plug-ins, leveraging technology from a joint development and OEM agreement with AppIQ.

The second phase, to be rolled out this summer, will include enhancements to both SIM and Storage Essentials that will make the platforms easier to use and manage. HP is also expected to expand SIM’s management capabilities, which are currently limited to visualization of server and storage environments. The release will reportedly include a common discovery engine, event manager, and enhanced reporting capabilities.

Frank Harbist, HP’s VP and general manager of StorageWorks software, says that while the first release of Storage Essentials closely resembles AppIQ’s Storage-Authority, the look and feel of the product will change as more functionality is added and the application is more tightly integrated with HP’s SIM platform.

“We want to do for storage/server management [what we did for Compaq and HP server management,]” says Harbist. “We want to be able to do server and storage management with one tool.”

Nancy Hurley, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group consulting firm, says that while few users today ask specifically for integration of server and storage management, they generally are looking for ways to both simplify and integrate IT management. The exception, she says, are the few users who have utility computing initiatives in place: “These users realize they wouldn’t be able to actually manage a utility environment unless they have a cohesive, correlated management solution for both servers and storage.”

Randy Kerns, a principal at the Evaluator Group consulting firm, also applauds the idea of a unified storage/server management architecture. “The strategy makes a lot of sense, particularly for mid-tier and smaller companies that typically have only one person doing both storage and server management, or for companies that organize around business services.”

For these users, Kerns says a common management tool has the benefit of simplifying the way server and storage resources are managed while maintaining the roles-based functions or security features of the separate environments.

According to ESG’s Hurley, there is a misconception among some users that a single management tool would force the server and storage groups to manage each other. “But this is not what unified storage/server management is all about,” she says. “It can help these groups with problem resolution.” For example, Hurley says that a unified management platform can help users more quickly isolate server issues by providing a common topology of both server and storage environments. “There is no correlation between topology maps in server and storage environments today.”

Hurley also believes users can benefit from lower administrative costs and correlated reporting as a result of a unified platform. Kerns believes that although the initial benefit of this type of approach is for SMBs, enterprise users in a grid-computing environment will benefit later from being able to take care of server and storage provisioning from a single interface, for example. “It would be better to do it all from one place because every time you move servers, you have to provision storage. It’s all part of the concept of a ‘virtual machine.’ ”

AppIQ inks deals with HP, Xiotech

By Heidi Biggar
While other start-ups struggle to keep afloat, AppIQ, a three-and-a-half year-old provider of standards-based storage management software, continues to gain traction, inking a number of significant OEM and technology development agreements over the past several months.

Most recently, AppIQ signed deals with Hewlett-Packard and Xiotech. AppIP has existing OEM agreements with Engenio, Hitachi Data Systems, Silicon Graphics, and Sun, as well as a collaborative relationship with Intel that focuses on standards-based management for iSCSI SANs.

Although the scope of the AppIQ-HP and AppIQ-Xiotech relationships differs significantly (the HP relationship extends to both OEM distribution and technology development; and the Xiotech deal to technology development only), both speak to the increasing need for SMI-S-based storage management, according to analysts.

SMI-S-based management tools, such as AppIQ’s StorageAuthority Suite, are designed to break vendor lock-in, allowing users to more easily manage heterogeneous storage environments.

“AppIQ has been the leading choice for vendors that care about being SMI-S-compliant,” says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) consulting firm. “This position has served them well since users are now starting to demand SMI-S compliance from their primary storage vendors.”

“By the end of the year, users will start voting with their pocketbooks and if a vendor has only been paying lip service to becoming standards-compliant, it is going to find itself on the wrong end of the money chain,” says Duplessie.

Xiotech is working with AppIQ to develop an SMI-S interface for its Magnitude 3D storage systems, which would enable the arrays to interoperate in a heterogeneous environment and perform a variety of storage services, such as discovery, provisioning, event management, path management, capacity management, and real-time performance monitoring.

“We partnered with AppIQ to develop an SMI-S interface for Magnitude 3D to make it easier for our customers to operate in a heterogeneous environment,” says Mike Stolz, executive vice president of marketing at Xiotech.

Xiotech expects to make the SMI-S interface available within the next month or two.

Hewlett-Packard is both OEMing StorageAuthority (selling it under the StorageWorks Storage Essentials label) and working with AppIQ to develop additional functionality for the product.

StorageWorks Storage Essentials is a key component of HP’s vision to consolidate server and storage management.

Both Storage Essentials and Server Essentials plug into HP’s Systems Insight Manager (SIM).

AppIQ released StorageAuthority version 3.6 last October. The company claims to have shipped product (via its OEM partners) to more than 150 customers.

“Our software helps vendors accelerate delivery of native SMI-S interfaces,” says Doug Cahill, vice president of business development at AppIQ.

“Our APIs enable our partners to do their own value-add development on top of the AppIQ platform,” he adds.

This article was originally published on April 01, 2005