Article

Storage area management speeds application allocation

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

Ready to add another acronym to your storage dictionary? This fall, storage area management (SAM) will join the rash of new technologies (SANs, NAS, SRM, etc.) that promise to simplify enterprise storage management. Scotts Valley, CA-based InterSAN created SAM to make it easier to allocate space on a server for a new application and store it without mishap. Find out how SAM works and why enterprises may need it in this searchWindowsManageability interview with Karen Dutch, InterSAN's vice president of marketing and Jules Myklebust, director of product management.

sWM: What is the most important problem targeted by storage area management (SAM)?
Dutch:

Scalability. As data continues to grow, there is more storage and more servers to process. Enterprises quickly have more infrastructure that needs to be managed. They can't keep hiring people at the same rate that they're bringing on more infrastructure.

sWM: What other management hassles does SAM address?
Dutch:

Being able to improve operational efficiency is very important, and SAM's automation is key to that. Availability is another issue in terms of being able to ensure that applications

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are up 24x7x365, if that's what's needed. The service-level management included in SAM is really important to customers because not all applications are created equal. It's important for customers to be able to differentiate levels of service from Exchange and SQL or their CRM environment and provide the right infrastructure to that application based on its service-level objectives. The last one is the security issue. SAM can take advantage of the security that's available in the infrastructure automatically and ensure that security is available.

sWM: Why aren't existing tools, like SANs, solving the problems SAM does?
Dutch:

They started with a different, device-oriented vision.

Myklebust:

What they're doing is useful if what you have is a small network and the person who is responsible for it really is a storage-networking expert. As storage networks grow, that level of functionality is inefficient.

sWM: How is SAM different from storage resource management (SRM)?
Dutch:

Storage resource management is very different than what we're doing. In fact, we're very complimentary. SRM runs on a server and looks at the storage that is attached to that server and very specifically. It's not a storage level view. One of the value adds of SRM is to understand how much data you have being used by the server that hasn't been touched in 200 days and maybe you want to archive that someplace else.

Myklebust:

In comparison, what storage area management does is provision storage to applications. Once that's done, an SRM tool can go in and report on how that storage is actually being used.

sWM: How does SAM not add to the complexity of the average enterprise infrastructure?
Dutch:

Our product hides the complexity of that underlying infrastructure and we do that by using policy that allows people to specify in very simple terms what are the requirements are for a particular application. They don't need to understand the technology to do that. We automate a lot of the tasks that require experts today.

sWM: How can customers make sure their SAM environment works well?
Dutch:

Customers need to understand what specific problems are they really trying to solve and understand what their focus area is.

sWM: Do enterprises need both?
Dutch:

Absolutely.

Myklebust:

For companies to manage their storage networks today, all they have is the device tools that come with each vendor's hardware and the first generation SAN management tools. In order to do provisioning of storage and application, you have to have very in-depth technical knowledge and you have to through step-by-step and talk to individual devices to create the settings.

Dutch:

It's an incredibly manual process that typically takes a lot of experts.


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