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Config Combo Conundrum

Software vendors are slowly waking up to users' need to configure storage and network devices automatically -- preferably from a single GUI. But so far, they've delivered very little.

Over recent months, a number of vendors have started to jostle for position in this market. "This is a very hot area," says Jeffrey Nudler, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, adding that 60 percent of "catastrophic failures" in data centers are the result of manual configuration errors. "I think that it is becoming a great pain point for IT managers."

There is a sense among suppliers that customers who would like automated configuration for multiple storage devices would also like a common config GUI for their networking gear. Some are making moves toward this goal. Last month, for example, network and server configuration vendor Opsware bought its storage counterpart Creekpath in an attempt to address both network and storage device controls. (See Storage Shopping Spree and CreekPath Seeks New CEO.) The vendor is currently using Creekpath's technology to build a new software platform called Application Storage Automation System (ASAS), which is expected to debut in the first half of 2007.

Opsware is not the only vendor moving to combine storage and network controls. HP is integrating AppIQ technology with its server management application; EMC has picked up application discovery vendor nLayers and network management startup Smarts; and IBM is moving to integrate server, network, and storage management applications in its Tivoli platform. (See EMC Gets Smarts and EMC Nets nLayers, Scopes Security.)

Some users are clamoring for software that can handle all their network and storage changes in one fell swoop. "It would give us centralized configuration reports and would let us push changes out to hundreds of devices from a single point," admits Neil Perry, IT Manager at Indianapolis-based truck dealership Stoops Freightliner-Quality Trailer which uses ManageEngine software from AdventNet to configure around 100 network devices. (See AdventNet Upgrades ManageEngine and AdventNet Adds to ManageEngine.)

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