AppIQ Storage Authority 4.0 bridges storage and business
New release extends support to more critical devices and applicationsFollow @infoworld
Excitement and anticipation mount before any review, but those feelings were far more intense when it came time to evaluate SA (Storage Authority) Suite 4.0, AppIQ's flagship storage management software. After all, the suite so enticed several major vendors -- including Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, SGI, and Sun Microsystems -- that they made it part of their storage portfolios, a recognition no other product in that area has received.
Testing SA proved to me that it's earned that distinction. Taken one by one, SA's features seem on par with those of competing products, but digging deeper reveals a combination of strong points that no other product I've seen so far can match.
AppIQ released SA Suite 4.0 at the end of August. Among other improvements, the release extends the range of supported hardware to NetApp filers and to IBM's TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers. Other additions of note include an analysis and reporting system for Veritas NetBackup backup jobs and improved storage awareness for Microsoft SQL Server databases.
For my review I had access to a Windows 2000 machine running SA Suite 4.0 and to a rather large heterogeneous SAN with FC (Fibre Channel) gear and servers from just about every vendor. Tapping the SA Java GUI from a browser, I began my evaluation by launching a discovery of the devices and applications in my test SAN. Discovery took only a few minutes, after which SA opened the topology view, an easy-to-navigate reticular map of everything on the storage network, including storage arrays, switches, servers, and applications. On the left pane, the same information was replicated in tree format.
The topology map changes according to the device or application you select, and it reveals other devices connected to the same network path. Double-click any node in your SAN, and the GUI will open another window with buttons and tabs that provide access to additional details for that unit.
Immensely useful is the fact that SA gives insight into each device's dependencies. This information allows you to quickly determine the applications, clients, or NAS hosts that rely on a single storage unit and thus could be adversely affected by a fault or by maintenance. No other management tool I know makes it easier to understand what storage-device failure can bring down an application.
The GUI's context menus also offer powerful functionality, including the ability to launch a device's native management application. For example, from the context menu of a NetApp filer, I was able to bring up its management app, FilerView, straight from the SA GUI.
Similarly, I was able to Telnet to a Brocade switch and access its CLI. You probably won't use SA's easy access to native apps very often. Still, it's reassuring to know that you can in the event that a local software update makes a device temporarily incompatible.
Among the best aspects of SA is the fact that it creates hyperlinks in the topology view for each device and application on your SAN. These hyperlinks make it possible to zoom with just a few mouse clicks from a summary view into the minute details of a single FC port on any device.
To help navigate a large SAN, SA offers features such as the ability to easily drag and drop changes to the topology layout; fast panning; filtering based on a variety of criteria; and the ability to isolate a specific domain in a separate window.