AppIQ Tackles Provisioning

Startup hopes simplicity will set it apart from crowded competitive field

April 24, 2004

3 Min Read
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AppIQ Inc. has a new strategy -- get basic. Its latest upgrade focuses on a key problem for SAN managers -- provisioning. The Burlington, Mass., startup is the latest vendor to focus on design and setup functions in its SAN software, an area that's been growing swiftly as more and bigger SANs are adopted.

AppIQ is adding a provisioning module to its StorageAuthority storage resource management product, which is geared to managing storage in heterogeneous shops. The upgrade will be sold by AppIQ and also go into SAN management software from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), which OEM AppIQ's wares (see Sun Shines on AppIQ and HDS Expands Software, Services).

The new software provides a GUI that lets administrators allocate SAN capacity from one screen. The provisioning window lets the administrator choose the array, host, volumes, LUNs, and fabric zones to provision. If the administrator makes a mistake during the process, a pop-up window is supposed to point it out.

For instance, the software makes sure the admin selects two HBAs on separate servers to eliminate a single point of failure. Once an admin picks a volume on an array, the software limits the admin to the hosts that are cabled to that array. The program allows provisioning jobs to be scheduled for off-hours.

AppIQ is also adding an application-specific module that allows administrators to check out SAN-related performance problems affecting Sybase Inc.'s Adaptive Server Enterprise. AppIQ already supports Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Exchange, NetBackup from Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS), and various file servers. Sybase support is key for winning accounts in the financial sector, AppIQ officials say.AppIQ's solution aims to be simple, but it's not for the simple-minded. The provisioning module is targeted at Fortune 2000 companies with large SANs and requires a knowledgeable administrator to set up rules, the vendor says. The idea is, once the rules are set, junior administrators can handle future provisioning jobs, reducing a company's operating expense. And the Sybase performance module is likewise targeted at companies with large, sophisticated database installations.

AppIQ management says it's the big SAN users that need these kinds of tools right now. According to director of product marketing John Kelly, administrators have been struggling with makeshift solutions for a long time. A lot of our customers are still using Excel to [provision SANs], but it’s getting to the point where Excel and Visio aren’t cutting it for them anymore.”

AppIQ claims that by putting the process of provisioning into a GUI, it's making a tempting replacement for homemade provisioning wares. At least one analyst says that's right on: “Users want to see more of an application focus in managing storage,” says John Webster, senior analyst and partner at Data Mobility Group. “AppIQ is aligning itself with that requirement. Now, that's not to say nobody else is doing it.”

Indeed, AppIQ isn't alone in perceiving this particular market need. Other vendors of storage resource management software also have provisioning tools, including CreekPath Systems Inc., Softek, Storability Inc., and Veritas. SAN vendors such as EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)also offer it in their management software.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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