Onaro One-Ups SRM

With upgrades, Onaro resists the SRM pigeonhole

March 9, 2006

3 Min Read
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Software maker Onaro plans to upgrade its products next week in a campaign to distinguish itself from other storage resource management (SRM) suppliers.

The planned rollout includes:

  • SANscreen Foundation 3: The latest upgrade includes new reports on service quality, chargeback, and security violations. It now specifies the composition of violations -- reporting, for instance, how many violations came from unauthorized ports, missing redundancy, missing active host ports, unauthorized sharing, path outages, and so on.

  • SANscreen Replication Assurance: This is a new name for the former SANscreen Business Continuity module, which is now aimed at verifying that data replicated to a remote site can be recovered.

  • SANscreen Performance Insight: This new module ties into Onaro's core product and reports on how an over- or under-utilized storage port affects applications tied to that port. It also correlates changes in the SAN to service-level changes, bringing a service viewpoint to performance management.

The tweaks come as Onaro tries to head off SRM vendors such as EMC and Hewlett-Packard (the latter with technology acquired from AppIQ). (See EMC Tackles Change Management.) While competitors like these are creeping into Onaro's speciality of change management, the vendor plans to stay ahead of the curve with a new message.

Onaro is billing itself, not as as an SRM vendor, but as one that provides storage services management (SSM). The idea is to go beyond just reporting changes to the storage environment, delivering info on how changes affect the delivery of storage as an IT service.

"Change management is required, but performance may not be impacted by changes in the environment," says Onaro marketing VP Bryan Semple.Marketing mumbo-jumbo, perhaps. But analysts and customers do give Onaro credit for attempting to link traditional SRM, which usually just configures devices, with the bigger IT picture.

"They're not rebuilding the wheel," says Mike Crocker, VP of storage area management for Onaro customer Countrywide Financial Corp. "They're pulling data from sources available in a lot of enterprise shops today, but they do a better job presenting it in a more useful manner." Crocker uses SANscreen to identify potential problems to his multi-petabyte SAN.

Crocker understands why Onaro is casting itself as more than change management. He says he became a SANscreen customer late last year mainly because its presentation capabilities exceeded SRM.

In less than four years, Countrywide's SAN has grown from one array to 15 EMC Clariion and Symmetrix arrays storing close to 2 Pbytes of data. Crocker says he has Brocade SilkWorm 24000 directors, a few Brocade switches, and HBAs from Emulex and QLogic. When he installed SANscreen last year, he wasn't worried about managing change as much as identifying possible problems.

"As our SAN grows, complexity grows with it," he says. "Understanding risk was becoming more of an issue. In some cases you might miss out on alerts or warnings when an HBA fails or a cable breaks. It leaves that device open to risk. SANscreen shone light on some areas that were dark to us.Crocker is also using EMC Control Center (ECC) to manage storage, "as well as Excel -- you can't get away from that."

The issue Onaro is tackling goes beyond presentation. "There's still a big disconnect between the IT room and the lines of business," says analyst Mike Karp of Enterprise Management Associates. "Onaro's not there yet, but it's getting to where they can provide linkage to the IT process. You have to be able to understand all the interrelationships to do that."

At least part of Onaro's new positioning is likely due to recent personnel changes. It has a new CEO in Doug McNary and new marketing VP in Sempel since its last product rollout. (See Onaro Appoints New CEO and Onaro Adds Marketing VP).

Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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