Data center automation products have a blind spot when it comes to storage, and it may take a long time to remedy the situation.
Software that automates various management functions of IT is growing in popularity, as demonstrated by BladeLogic's IPO and the proposed sale of Opsware to HP for $1.6 billion. But storage networks have been largely left out of the loop.
"Major automation suppliers seem to be sticking to systems and servers, not the network or storage," says analyst Andi Mann of Enterprise Management Associates. "They're leaving storage to specialists."
There's no surprise in this state of affairs. Data center automation is expensive, usually affordable by only the biggest enterprises. In these shops, IT tends to be divided into fiefdoms. Often, operations folk are concerned with the configuration of application servers, and they are only too happy to leave storage off their list of problems to solve.
"About the only time a customer wants to talk about storage is relative to servers and applications," says Vick Vaishnavi, director of product marketing at BladeLogic. The kind of IT pro who's investing top dollar in IT automation frequently does so to ensure server farms are configured correctly and consistently; he or she can't be bothered with fiddling with LUNs, RAID sets, and other underlying vagaries of the storage infrastructure.