EMC rolls out ESN Manager


By most accounts, EMC's recent rollout of ESN Manager lacks the substance-at least in its first iteration-of a major software release. The product, which is just one piece of the company's over-arching storage management scheme, focuses on the infrastructure management, or the switched fabric, of storage area networks (SANs).

"It's really just an upgrade to EMC Volume Logix," says Carolyn DiCenzo, chief analyst, storage management software and SAN appliances, at Gartner Group/ Dataquest. "It's a good upgrade but not a significant announcement." ESN Manager is expected to replace Volume Logix but not until support for HP-UX and AIX is added. ESN Manager currently works only in Windows NT and Solaris environments.

But despite this shortcoming, ESN Manager, with its upward link to EMC ControlCenter, holds significant promise for the management and control of heterogeneous SANs. "This is our next big step toward the universal data tone-a completely self-managing networked information storage environment," says Jim Rothnie, EMC senior vice president and chief technology officer.

"It is designed to manage the infrastructure between the storage and the machines that need to use it," says Barry Burke, manager of SAN and advanced connectivity marketing at EMC. ESN Manager, as well as other existing and planned software components, will plug into EMC ControlCenter, which will centrally manage the storage network and its various software subcomponents.

Explains Burke: "We're looking to more closely couple the subcomponent products, which in some cases have been individually developed and released, into a more tightly knit family of solutions."

These products, says Burke, will not only be linked in name and design, but also in inter-system communication into a common database architecture. For example, information about the topology and port requirements of a storage network will be shared across other optimization and management tools within the ControlCenter framework.

Under the ControlCenter umbrella, ESN Manager will eventually provide users with a single tool to view the topology of mixed-platform SANs, control volume access to various storage systems, zone the environment, and do auto-pathing.

Zoning establishes, or controls, the path through the network to attached storage devices, while LUN masking manages access to the actual disk volumes. Auto-pathing combines these two processes into a single, automated step.

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Currently, ESN Manager's volume-access, or LUN masking, capabilities are restricted to Symmetrix devices, though users can establish paths to Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi disk arrays and StorageTek tape libraries via Brocade, EMC Connectrix, and McData Fibre Channel switches.

However, it's important to note that ESN Manager, in its current form, does not control volume access to non-Symmetrix systems. While users can "see" these devices and configure paths to and from them, they cannot manage access to the data residing on these systems. For that level of support, they must defer to the management framework of the particular storage system.

Nonetheless, there is significant value-add to be gained from the software's first release, claims EMC. "Essentially, it allows you to go to one place [to configure the fabric]," says Paul Ross, manager of network storage marketing. "You don't have to worry about what device you're on. It knows what is connected to what, so you can just establish the zone without having to get involved in the details."

Without ESN Manager, users would have to establish zones with each storage system and then manage those zones separately. ESN Manager helps reduce storage network deployment time and IT training costs, and speed customer return on information, claims EMC.

ESN Manager is currently available and is priced on a capacity basis starting at $24,000.

This article was originally published on April 01, 2001