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Product suite lets admins know what and how much users store

StorageCeNTral gives you a bird's eye view of what your users are storing on Windows NT/2000 servers. It even has the capability to send users a detailed, web-based report of what they have stored, including a direct means to change anything. The product is a viable way to keep tabs on storage resources.

Your users may hog server space like greedy trick-o-treaters stockpile candy. However, there is a way to curb how much room your users are allotted. Thanks to storage resource management technology, IT managers can spook those greedy space hogs by letting them know that their hoards are under surveillance and by putting their disks on a diet.

Once users know that what they are saving can be investigated and their amount of storage space limited, they will not store hoards of mp3s, says Graham Berry, IT Administrator, of Stevenage Herts, England-based ABB Automation. They'll also be careful about not saving the same files over and over again.

Berry's scare tactic is facilitated by WQuinn's StorageCeNTral storage resource management (SRM) product. Without a storage resource management tool, managing a storage system used by hundreds people would be a real headache for Berry. As an administrator in the IT Support department, Berry oversees 350 employees' use of 15 servers. ABB Automation has 100 international offices and 160,000 employees, specializes in automation processes for its oil, gas and power customers and has been using StorageCeNTral since 1999.

StorageCeNTral employs TruStor technology, which gives real-time control of storage space, allowing administrators to track and control disk usage, according to Steven Toole, Vice President of Marketing at WQuinn's Reston, VA, headquarters. Through an automatic discovery feature called Learn Mode, new users will automatically be found, and the storage policies will also be applied to the new users when they are first introduced to the system.

"TruStor technology gives StorageCeNTral scalability," Toole said, because it monitors file I/O activity as it occurs, without having to rescan network directories to assess disk space usage.

Another feature of StorageCeNTral, called Active Reports, allows users to know how much space they are using via a web-based report interface. They can see where outdated files or other "wasted space" are. "Rather than administrators having to make decisions on what files to groom, we're letting the end users decide what to get rid of," Toole said. Active Reports come in an HTML format, whereby users can click directly on files and open, delete, or move them in a web browser, right from the report, Toole said.

Disk Advisor, one component within StorageCeNTral, is the reporting part that runs and sends out the Active Reports. Berry said he was particularly happy with his usage of Disk Advisor when he was able to find large files that hadn't been used for over a year. Through the interface, Berry said he could archive or delete them. Berry also was able to pinpoint where one file was located in six different locations on the server.

The other two components in StorageCeNTal are QuotaAdvisor and FileScreen. QuotaAdvisor tracks disk space usage, while FileScreeen blocks unwanted file types from writing to server networks and storage area networks (SANs). Trend Analysis is provided by DiskAdvisor, which enables administrators to track storage usage over time to make intelligent capacity planning decisions.

StorageCeNTral's current release is version 4.1, which is a suite of the QuotaAdvisor, DiskAdvisor and FileScreen products. Beta tests of StorageCeNTral SRM 5.0, which will incorporate the three components all together through a single interface, will begin this month. The release date for version 5.0 is set for September.

Toole stressed that through the use of StorageCeNTral many customers have been able to regain 30-50% of storage space. Further, he commented that, "an educated end user is a smarter end user," and companies that follow Berry's example and tell users how much space they are allowed will be less like to see storage problems popping up. Then, like Berry at ABB, IT managers can control storage growth while spending less time fixing problems.

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