Taking storage management by storm

AppIQ's suite aims to change the storage management landscape from inside

Competition in the storage space is tight, which explains why staying in business and being successful is so difficult. While this is true across the entire storage spectrum, there's one specific segment in which, for many years, there has been a sharp contrast between customers' expectations and the solutions shipped by vendors.

I am referring to the tormented SRM (storage resource management) and SAN management markets. Judging by numerous surveys measuring their deployment at 15 percent or less, these remain the least popular storage technologies, even though adopting SRM and/or SAN management systems bears the potential for large cost savings.

Worse yet, the relatively few customers who have implemented SRM applications often lament their limited scope, which translates into a drastic reduction of the expected benefits. 

While the remarks above are unfortunately nothing new, a relatively young company has been quietly building a suite of applications over the last few years that could finally make storage less expensive to manage and even more in tune with business objectives.

That company is AppIQ. Founded at the end of 2001, AppIQ has been building its StorageAuthority suite and focusing on standards and multivendor support.

Part of the problem with deploying a storage management application is blending the new software with the existing landscape. It becomes, in essence, an application integration challenge. In this contest, focusing on standards pays off -- a point that AppIQ is proving through its suite's success with large vendors including Engenio, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, SGI, and Sun.

Those companies have all engaged in business agreements that include reselling the AppIQ suite and adopting its applications as the foundation of management tools for their own storage solutions. To complete the picture, as of this month AppIQ has passed the 150 customer milestone -- no small feat considering the size of the datacenters that deploy SRM.

What makes this company so successful in an area where the biggest names in storage struggle to acquire and maintain credibility?

One advantage AppIQ has on other vendors is its relatively young age; it doesn't yet have to carry around the baggage of legacy solutions. "We were probably the last one to come to the party, which actually turned out to be an advantage to us," says Tom Rose, vice president of marketing at AppIQ.

Obviously "the party" Rose refers to is the SRM marketplace, and he adds that by being a late entrant, AppIQ was able to take advantage of advanced technologies that were either unavailable or not quite ripe for earlier companies.

"At that time, the CIM [common information model] was establishing as a standard, and Web services, Java, J2EE became the way to build enterprise-class applications," remembers Rose.

The most interesting aspect of a suite of applications with such a large reach -- spanning basic device detection in multivendor SANs all the way to application-driven policies -- is its ability to make store management reabsorb into the more practical and generally understandable process of managing business requirements.

"That's why we call our company AppIQ," Rose says, adding that the suite has application discovery features to allow, for example, a DBA to understand how database tables are affected by the storage infrastructure, pinpointing all the components needed for daily operations or to recover from a system crash.

Sounds like storage management as it should be: In a word, inconspicuous, which is probably why AppIQ is becoming the darling of so many storage vendors and customers.

Join me on The Storage Network blog to discuss this and other topics.