Airline picks Onaro over EMC for SAN usage reporting

June 23, 2006

3 Min Read
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When a SAN is in transition, it's tough to keep things under control. That's why Glen Gambal, manager of data center operations at JetBlue Airways, went looking for a product to help him track his storage six months ago.

"Our environment's in a bit of a mess," he concedes. The company is moving its data center -- which features a 14-Tbyte SAN -- from Forest Hills to Garden City, N.Y., while trying to prepare a new disaster recovery site in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Meanwhile, storage usage at JetBlue flourishes. Data underlying the company's airline operation grows over 50 percent annually by most accounts. "We needed proactive monitoring," Gambal says. He also wanted a way to "blow our own horn to management" a bit, showing the brass what his group was spending -- and saving -- on storage.

JetBlue is a pure EMC shop, with 360 ports of 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel storage based on EMC Symmetrix DMX 2000 and a Clariion CX700 array hooked to Brocade SilkWorm 24000 switches. But when Gambal's team compared EMC's SAN Advisor storage reporting against what startup Onaro had on offer, they liked Onaro better.

Onaro's Windows-based change management package for SANs, dubbed SANscreen, incorporates a range of specialized reports that impressed Gambal's group more. "SANscreen's reporting was much better," he says.Specifically, the package allowed Gambal to build price quotes from his EMC list into forecasting reports. When anyone from JetBlue needs more storage for an application, Gambal and his team can tell management what the storage will cost. The reports are generated from the chief engineer's Windows-based console, which links to a server housing the main SANscreen software. There are no agents required.

The price of Onaro's package was also a help. While Gambal won't say how much he paid, he will say that cost was a "deciding factor" in picking Onaro over EMC. On the street, Gambal might have paid the full $185 per port cost of Onaro's SANscreen, which would mean he'd have signed on for about $66,600.

JetBlue's contentment with SANscreen doesn't mean it's ditching EMC or any other SAN management package. While Onaro is one of the Byte and Switch Top Ten Private Companies: Spring 2006 list and is cited by other users for its useful reporting capabilities, it can't be considered a full-scale SRM product, because it does not provision or allocate storage, configure logical unit numbers (LUNs), or monitor utilization. Instead, SANscreen offers comprehensive reports, matches storage volumes to applications, and provides what-if scenarios that help administrators plan for adding or deleting gear.

That's good, but it won't be sufficient to help JetBlue's Gambal with another thorny problem: How to find and get rid of duplicated and unnecessary data. "The biggest issue is the growth of storage," he admits. "People aren't looking these days at the data they're saving and asking whether it really needs to be saved." Unnecessary storage translates to unnecessary costs. (See Onaro One-Ups SRM and Insurer Open to Change.)

Gambal isn't looking to Onaro to solve the problem, and Onaro VP of marketing Bryan Semple concedes that Onaro does not support file-based analysis of stored data, which Gambal will require when starting his weeding project. "The reality is most people today struggle with [SRM] just to get file level reports out of it," Semple writes in an email. Onaro is against using agents, which Semple believes would be required to implement file search and identification.Despite the limitation, Gambal is pleased with the help he's gotten so far, which includes the kind of service that only a hungry startup is likely to give these days: "[Onaro's] CFO called me from the hospital when his wife was having a baby to check up on me," Gambal says. "That's dedication!"

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Onaro Inc.

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