Softek nails multi-platform storage management
Storage Manager 2.5.1 handles varied storage systems, devices, SANs with aplomb
When SANs emerged, one much-touted benefit was that all enterprise servers would use a central storage facility, with the capability of increasing or decreasing the amount of storage available to each server.
For most networks, the reality is quite different. Each server has an internal drive, many have an internal or external SCSI array, and some may also have external Fibre Channel attached storage. That mix of platforms and devices tangles up effective storage and SAN management.
Softek Storage Manager 2.5.1 does an excellent job of loosening the knot, offering a platform- and vendor-agnostic management tool that works with virtually all major server and storage devices.
It provides an integrated console with several modules that address management and optimization of storage across multiple servers. Additional Performance Tuner, Storage Infrastructure Manager (SANView 5.5), Data Migrator, and Data Replication Manager modules manage storage on servers running Windows, Linux (including IBM zSeries mainframes), NetWare, HP-UP, AIX, and Solaris, as well as most SAN devices.
Aiming for Optimal
I tested Storage Manager at Softek’s Sunnyvale lab because it has a wide variety of storage devices and servers. The management console installed easily on Windows 2000 and 2003 Servers. New in this version is support for the Apache Web server, as well as IIS for browser access to data (IIS is still required for dynamic reports).
Each system to be monitored must have an agent installed. Log-in access is handled through Windows security, creating an admin user group and a read-only user group. Agents can be installed remotely through SMS for Windows or by remote mount for Unix and Linux; after they’re set up, agents self-update as needed. Storage Manager itself acts as the console.
One of Storage Manager’s strongest pieces is Space Optimizer, which shows all the storage attached to each server. Optimizer allows you to identify which storage volumes are full and which users are using the most space; it also can search for files types (such as MPEG or MP3) that you don’t want on your network.
Drilling down from server to storage device to specific file to user details is an easy and straightforward process. You can query by just about any topic, such as the 100 or 1,000 largest files on the system or files that haven’t been used for a year. Space Optimizer integrates with major backup utilities so it can automatically back up and delete unused files through the server’s backup program.
You can also specify how often Space Optimizer collects file information, depending on your application. Because each process collects data on each file, user, device, server, and switch on the storage network, you probably won’t want to run it too often.
The impact on the storage network is not onerous, however. Measurements are tiered, so data is collected in a local database on each server and the central management console runs queries on each server. Agents can be turned off automatically when not in use.
Space Manager can also collect raw data from the OS on disk utilization, using OS-level reports. On Windows, it collects about 40 individual metrics through the Windows reporting tool.