EMC tackles centralized SRM

EMC tackles centralized SRM

Zachary Shess

Last month, EMC launched its Control-Center framework to address storage resource management (SRM) across Symmetrix disk arrays and storage network components from a variety of vendors.

The collection of software modules automatically monitors, configures, and tunes the storage infrastructure while reporting information to help plan for future capacity requirements.

Jim Rothnie, EMC`s senior vice president and chief marketing technical officer, says he expects ControlCenter to eventually manage non-EMC arrays, but did not know when that would occur.

EMC`s use of the FibreAlliance management information base (MIB) within the ControlCenter framework is significant because it facilitates management and generates new ways to communicate between heterogeneous hubs, switches, servers, and storage devices, according to John Webster, senior analyst at Illuminata, a market research firm in Nashua, NH.

"Potentially, with the MIB an administrator can send a command line down to switches and hubs to automate zoning in a SAN, for example," Webster says. "That`s something they can`t really do in HP OpenView or Tivoli because it`s more of a one-way flow of information; all you can really do today is pass messages back up to those frameworks. They can`t then be used as management tools back down into the storage devices."

"Say what you will about the Fibre-Alliance or the MIB itself, but it`s the first implementation of a SAN standard," says Webster. "The missing piece in the SAN equation is management standards, and users are not going to care where the standards come from, as long as they get established."

ControlCenter includes a number of optional software modules. For example, the Symmetrix Optimizer module transparently automates storage load balancing by monitoring, analyzing, and relocating active storage volumes. The Resource View module enables administrators to look down through abstraction layers within a database application. A customizable view into the relational performance between databases, servers and storage subsystems allows administrators to quickly drill down through these layers to optimize performance.

Database Tuner software tracks Oracle database performance on EMC arrays. By automatically tracking the database application, operating system and disk array, administrators can monitor bottlenecks and alleviate them before business is affected.

Automatic monitoring and data movement is especially important to mercurial e-commerce businesses. Data volume requirements of these companies change daily or hourly, and they rapidly outgrow their storage infrastructure. EMC officials contend that Symmetrix Optimizer, Resource View and Database Tuner can help IT managers in those environments make crucial adjustments on the fly. EMC also announced an API for automated Unix access to mainframe data.

"The key to all of this is automation," says Rothnie. "We`re replacing thousands of hours of error-prone human activity with automatic mechanisms to detect problems, find the solutions, and take corrective actions online."

ControlCenter supports Windows NT and most Unix systems. The average ControlCenter configuration will cost between $100,000 and $200,000, according EMC officials.

In a related announcement, Oracle will form an EMC strategic business unit and a joint development center at its headquarters in Redwood Shores, CA, as part of an expanded alliance designed to optimize Oracle database applications on EMC systems. Both companies plan to dedicate full-time engineering and other resources to help customers implement storage environments. Officials did not specify how much money or personnel would be put into the effort.

This article was originally published on December 01, 1999