Creating cohesive storage management

Storage orchestration software holds the promise of seamless management. But for now, enterprise customers are stuck with point tools.

Neverfail says its software provides "application-aware" disaster recovery and high availability for applications in hybrid public/private clouds. It does this, says CTO Paddy Falls, by intercepting file system updates from applications and storing a copy of the application on other servers on-premises or in the cloud. It allows the high-availability or disaster recovery server to run on a different platform than the production server, he says, and to mix physical and virtual servers or different hypervisors. The software doesn't, however, support object-based storage services.

Some tools focus on specific applications. Sanbolic recently announced the first public cloud support for Sanbolic AppCluster, a module within its Melio data management software that provides failover/migration, load balancing and quality-of-service support for Microsoft SQL Server.

As more routine storage functions are automated, and as businesses focus more on service levels rather than on the mundane tasks required to achieve them, the task of storage administration will move "from a pure storage administrator to maybe a DBA or maybe a policy administrator," Reichman predicts. "Instead of storage administrators doing only storage, expect to see more application administrators managing the infrastructure, [with] some of what was the server and storage team moving into those application or workload teams."

However, says Shahin Pirooz, CTO at hosted services provider CenterBeam, "you still need a core team of people to configure the orchestration" and build the infrastructure for higher-level administrators to manage.

Customer demands will eventually force vendors to provide more complete orchestration. Until then, CIOs who are evaluating storage management tools should find out which specific storage and hypervisor platforms the vendors support, determine which functions or applications they focus on and, above all, assess the total cost of ownership and ease of use of their offerings.

As Conway says, "I'd rather have three highly capable and easy-to-use tools than one tool that doesn't do as much as the three and is harder to manage."

Buyer beware

6 tough questions

When choosing a storage orchestration tool, Greg Schulz, senior adviser at the Server and StorageIO Group, recommends asking the following questions:

1. Does it enable the setup and scheduling of snapshots, replication, backup and other functions that ensure data availability?

2. How does the platform coordinate with other technologies, such as dynamic path management, that provide load management as application loads change?

3. How will the platform's performance and price be affected as your company adds more servers, storage and networks?

4. Will it be easy to install the vendor's system and integrate it into your company's environment?

5. How well does the vendor's platform integrate with your existing service catalog?

6. Can the platform recognize and comply with your policies on security, regulatory compliance and quality of service?

-- Robert L. Scheier

Scheier is a veteran technology writer. You can contact him at bob@scheierassociates.com.

Read more about data storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.

This story, "Creating cohesive storage management" was originally published by Computerworld.

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