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Point Product or Fancy Framework?

The storage architect at Boston's CareGroup Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center used to have a communications gap with his management. "CIOs gauge storage [value] based on utilization," says Michael Passe. "We engineer for performance." In his view, utilization of a SAN can be high or low, but response times and I/O operations per second (IOPS) tell the real story.

But until six months ago, Passe had no way to measure performance the way he wanted to. Midrange storage vendors, he says, don't offer the kinds of performance measurement and optimization tools that come with enterprise-level systems.

He had a few products that contributed information. His group uses Onaro software, for instance, for configuration and change management in the hospitals' 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel SAN. But he wanted something more.

Then in August 2006, some former Onaro employees, including Tom Riddle, the former VP of business development at Onaro, approached Passe and this group on behalf of their startup, Akorri. (See Akorri.) They proposed to make CareGroup a beta site. To speed the process, they delivered a prototype Intel-based appliance with a hardened Linux kernel, equipped with the startup's BalancePoint software. Their claim: to measure performance across applications, storage, and servers.

"They take response time, queue depth, I/O generation, and other metrics and give us an index number to show how a host is performing," Passe says. They can also gauge memory and CPU utilization.

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