Onaro Adds New Storage Views

Beefs up SRM and makes it easier to view SANs from other parts of the data center

December 5, 2006

4 Min Read
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Onaro took another step today to widen its place in the storage resource management (SRM) world. (See Onaro Unveils 3.5.) But the jury's out on just how wide a net Onaro can cast.

Originally conceived to help organizations manage change in their SANs, Onaro has gradually added a range of other features. Today's release of SANscreen Foundation 3.5 adds the following:

  • Application-centric view: SANscreen now lets organizations map applications to storage resources, so administrators can view the services delivered to an application. For instance, the product shows how much storage capacity is dedicated to an application rather than a host -- a feature that can come in handy if an application runs across several hosts.

  • Improved capacity planning: SANscreen now reports on allocation trends for arrays and switch ports, based on information stored in its change repository.

  • IT Storage Portal: A new Web-based interface that depicts information about storage resources for administrators outside of storage. Database administrators (DBAs), network admins, and others can view storage resource information for their applications and services.

The new features are part of Onaro's ongoing strategy to move beyond its original role of change management for SANs. (See Onaro Ships Change Manager.) In March, Onaro added service quality, chargeback, and security violations reports. (See Onaro One-Ups SRM.) Last month, Onaro delivered a dashboard to plug into Oracle that shows the status of storage services from within Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g. Onaro is working on similar plug-ins for Cisco and Hitachi Data Systems hardware. (See Onaro, Oracle Team Up.)

The additions raise questions about how much functionality Onaro should really attempt to take on. SRM has been a murky area, perhaps because it comprises so many capabilities. It is difficult for an application to deliver all of them across heterogeneous SANs. (See Insider: SRM Spells 'Challenge'.) To be really complete, a product would need to include features such as autodiscovery, provisioning, change management, quota management, utilization reporting and monitoring, root cause analysis, and capacity planning, to name just a few.

Most startups that have taken a shot at heterogeneous SRM have been acquired and integrated into larger management applications. (See StorageTek Salvages Storability, HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine, and Storage Shopping Spree.) Symantec and CommVault have had some success with more comprehensive heterogeneous SRM, but most shops use either spreadsheets or packages that come with their SAN gear.Onaro's chief competition comes from suppliers looking to perform specific SRM functions. Monosphere does capacity planning, for example. Aptare, Bocada, Tek-Tools, Servergraph, and WysDM handle backup reporting and monitoring.

At least one user thinks highly of Onaro, while not relying on it for everything. Raul Robledo, storage specialist for Connecticut-based marketing firm Affinion Group, picked SANscreen over Hewlett-Packard's Storage Essentials SRM package because he says it is easier to use and gives him better SAN information. Affinion has a total of 40 Tbytes on EMC Clariion and 3PAR SANs, and 14 Brocade switches.

SANscreen has given us really good visibility into our SAN," Robledo says. "We use it to see any change that happened, whether a human made a change or a piece of hardware changed."

Still, Robledo says he consider SANscreen complimentary to SRM rather than an SRM tool. While he sees the new IT portal benefiting DBAs and other admins in his shop -- "Sometimes [IT workers] forget how much storage they have and put in a request for more" --he can't use SANscreen to provision storage. For that, he uses EMC's Navisphere for his Clariion and 3PAR's management software.

"It would be nice to allocate storage, go in and carve out storage from a single pane," Robledo says. "I’ve asked Onaro, and they’re working on it, but it’s difficult to engineer. Now we have to go in through Navisphere or 3PAR’s software. Then once it’s assigned to a host we can see it in SANscreen.”At least one analyst lauds Onaro's attempt to break out of a one-trick-pony mold, while cautioning users that SRM will always require multiple products.

"[Onaro] may have been pigeon-holed, they need to break out of the perception that they just do change management," says Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group. "They need to be looked at as more than a one-dimensional tool."

Still, he thinks adding functionality is one thing, trying to be a do-all SRM is another: “If Onaro says they’re going into the SRM market, I’d say they’re crazy. They’d be limiting themselves." In the future, he thinks Onaro should concentrate on specific features that interplay with other SRM functions, without trying to do it all.

SANscreen 3.5 is expected to become generally available by the end of this year, with pricing starting at $185 per port.

— Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Bocada Inc.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • CommVault Systems Inc.

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • Onaro Inc.

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)

  • Tek-Tools Inc.

  • ServerGraph Inc.

  • The StorageIO Group

  • WysDM Software Inc.

  • Symantec Corp.0

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