A Storage Management Lexicon

Here's what vendors really mean when they talk storage management systems

October 24, 2007

3 Min Read
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Every storage customer is eager for better management, not only of individual storage devices, but across multiple systems. Sadly, storage vendors aren't on board.

Both IBM and EMC are living proof that the industry's best efforts to improve storage management aren't denting the big boys' determination to make a buck.

In today's storage product revamp, for instance, IBM boasted a new IBM System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) that supports its DS8000 and SVC enterprise storage products. Period. While other devices will eventually be included in the SSPC management roster, it's not clear when or how that will happen.

SSPC is not to be confused with TotalStorage Productivity Center, or the Tivoli Storage Manager, though there's some overlap among all three. While Big Blue talks about a common look and feel, that doesn't mean the company will sacrifice any potential software revenues to the central console god.

Ditto EMC, whose IT software management announcement in September proved the vendor's ControlCenter for SANs isn't getting any closer to being incorporated in the rest of EMC's management lineup. And heterogeneous support means discovering and configuring some systems from HP and HDS.Is that the sound of marketing folk taking sword from scabbard? I hear them now: What about the many products and services IBM, EMC, and other vendors offer to help their customers manage storage? What about the SNIA? What about Aperi or whatever it's now called?

Ongoing conversations with big storage suppliers reveal a harsh truth: When it comes to storage management, vendors speak a different language than their customers.

In view of this, we've compiled a glossary, presenting various words pertaining to storage management software, along with the real meanings, heretofore known only to vendors:

  • Centralized point of control. A system that supports one or two storage devices but must be customized to support more than that.

  • Heterogeneous management. Support for other vendors' equipment that is 1. limited to device discovery, simple setup, and small-scale performance reporting; and 2. will not be extended to more than three or four competing products. Ever.

  • Same look and feel. Interfaces for management applications that look alike but do not share information or management functions.

  • Automated storage management. Device discovery, with selective inclusion of configuration for proprietary devices – but not all proprietary devices.

  • Fabric management. Management of Fibre Channel SANs and the servers that attach to them. Not to be mistaken for management of anything outside the FC SAN.

  • Ease of use capabilities. Runs in a browser.

  • Management standards. Group efforts aimed at ensuring good PowerPoints and press releases.

Are we too harsh? Well, it's true most big storage suppliers offer more management features and functions than ever before. But it's also true that the overall management of storage isn't getting simpler.It's time for large vendors to embrace a model for storage management that gets away from Byzantine interdependencies among products and limited support for competing wares. Sure, management software may not be the world's biggest money-maker. But keeping management capabilities narrow, complicated, and proprietary isn't the way to better things.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp.

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