SRM - More Important Than Ever

With virtualization, manually tracking and updating storage resources on a spreadsheet may now be impossible

George Crump

February 21, 2009

2 Min Read
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All you hear today is that IT professionals have to do more with less. It makes me wonder, when exactly were they allowed to less with more? The answer was never. There has been a constant demand to get more efficient, but there seem to be moments when the efficiency crank is wound at a faster pace. Now is one of those times. As a result, Storage Resource Management software is making a comeback.

The most popular SRM tool has been and continues to be spreadsheets. I'm not sure that spreadsheets were all that efficient prior to virtualization, but with virtualization, manually tracking storage and updating a spreadsheet may now be impossible. You live in a world were a physical host's storage is not just its storage anymore -- it is hosting storage for multiple virtual guests. Understanding the relationship of this storage to the physical host and/or the virtual machine can be challenging, especially when you factor in that the virtual machine can move to another physical host via live migration.

The problem is that many of the major storage and system manufacturers have bought smaller SRM software companies and, as is often the case with technology acquisitions, the applications have floundered. Also, there is concern about broad support for various storage systems and new environments like virtualization. This is a software market that needs to stay apart from the ownership of big organizations.

The need to be stand-alone is not just a matter of broad support; it is a matter of flexibility and speed to support new developments in storage. There are stand-alone options available from companies like Tek-Tools, Akorri, Aptare, and others. Most importantly, they are adept at connecting the abstraction between storage and the virtualization layer. The ability to utilize tools like these to manage storage in a virtualized environment is becoming a critical capability.

Another example is thin provisioning. It confuses many SRM tools because what is reported to be allocated may not actually be allocated. The tools under the ownership of larger companies look like they are going to be slower to support and understand thin provisioning, while smaller companies are moving quickly to provide that support.SRM is needed now more than ever. But when you select a tool Id suggest getting it from an independent smaller company.

— George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland , which provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.

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