Ask a silly question, as they say. And that's just what we did of a number of storage vendors. Most listed product features and functions, throwing in a few platitudes about "empowering IT." But a few intriguing frameworks emerged.
Roger Reich, an architect of the Storage Networking Industry Association's effort to create storage management standards and now CEO of Olocity, gives a layer-based description of SRM. Layer 1 functions as configuration management, including hardware and topology discovery and configuration mapping as it pertains to performance, cost, expandability, security, and redundancy. Layer 2 is capacity management, including trending. Layer 3 consists of data management, such as discovering what application and user data is stored on which components and whether it's being handled according to compliance requirements. Functions in Layer 4 include storage analytics, comprising an ongoing assessment of the capabilities, availability, and risk associated with the storage environment, combined with monitoring operating policies. Using Reich's model, most SRM product functionality nests in the first two layers.
Jamie Clifton, director of business development for BridgeHead Software, takes the interesting tack of aligning the value of SRM with business cost issues and the fit with existing infrastructure. Clifton notes that the ultimate goal of SRM is to turn stored data into "usable intellectual property," a view that extends the functionality set of SRM beyond mere tools for infrastructure and data movement optimization and into the realm of data management, such as looking inside files to learn what they contain. Other respondents mainly equate SRM with capacity management and, depending on the company's capabilities, include additional functions ranging from backup monitoring, in the case of Tek-Tools, to e-mail reporting (IBM), help desk and trouble-ticket management (HP), and managing to service levels (Network Appliance).
Our take: SRM has no common meaning within the industry, beyond basic topology discovery and hardware status/capacity monitoring and reporting. This makes it even more critical for IT to know what storage problems are most acute before shopping for SRM.
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