SRM pays big dividends for bank

Storage resource management multiplies storage manager's effectiveness.

SRM pays big dividends for bank
AmSouth manages more with less

Storage resource management multiplies storage manager's effectiveness.

By Rick Cook

In 1993 AmSouth Bancorporation managed less than half a terabyte of mainframe storage with one employee. Today the bank manages nearly seven terabytes of mainframe storage with one employee.

The secret, according to Wayne Rylee, the Birmingham, Ala.-based bank's storage manager, is effective use of storage resource management (SRM) software. The software allows Rylee to automate most ordinary storage management tasks, stay on top of growing storage requirements and warn employees of potential problems.

Like many banks, AmSouth has grown tremendously in an era of deregulation, bank mergers and interstate banking. Today the company, which started more than 100 years ago as the First National Bank of Birmingham, has about 600 banking offices scattered through five southern states and assets of nearly $40 billion. As its business has grown, banking has become more competitive, making efficiency in back-office operations more important.

In 1993 AmSouth chose an SRM product from Trilogy Corp. in Bellevue, Wash. to handle its SRM needs. The name of the company is now TeraCloud Corp. And the product is called SpaceFinder SRM, but AmSouth still relies on it. TeraCloud is one of a number of companies specializing in SRM. Like many of them, it started in the mainframe world and is branching out. This fall TeraCloud will release SpaceNet, a version of its SpaceFinder SRM product for distributed and open systems.

Storage resource management is a subset of storage management. "Storage resource management has been around for more than 10 years," says Bob Bingham, chief marketing officer for TeraCloud Corp. "It's been refined and re-refined in the data center." SRM focuses on treating all the enterprise's storage resources, from disk arrays to storage area networks (SANs) to network attached storage (NAS) filers, as a single entity and managing them all for maximum efficiency. Unlike storage management in general, it is less concerned with the day-to-day business of running storage pools, making backups and allocating blocks of storage to users than it is with the larger, longer-range questions of capacity, reliability and utilization.

For Rylee, one of the most important features of storage resource management is that it helps him spot problems early and potential problems before they occur. "It (SRM) assists in identifying problems so you can tend to them post haste," Rylee says. Based on pre-set rules, a good SRM system can also apply fixes to common problems. The proactive nature of the product is a key point for Rylee. "Don't just show me the problem. Do something about it."

The ability to do rule-based management is also an important way of saving time and labor for storage managers. As any storage manager knows, a lot of storage management is repetitive work. Things like consolidating storage volumes and moving data sets to less active storage as they age are all routine and time-consuming parts of the job. Storage resource management software makes it easy to do the repetitive parts automatically.

Often the parts that can't be done automatically are someone else's decision to make. The reports generated by an SRM system don't necessarily end up on the storage manager's desk. At AmSouth Bank, the system generates reports for the programmers, application managers and others who own the data being stored so they can take the necessary action, such as reducing storage used or moving data to backup devices. "That's a very large chunk of work that goes on dynamically that I don't even have to touch," says Rylee.

For additional information about AmSouth Bancorp, visit their Web site.

For more information about TeraCloud Corp., visit their Web site.

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This was first published in July 2001

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