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EMC Gives Storage Management A Cloud Facelift

Today's storage resource management offerings won't cut it in the emerging highly virtualized, cloud-based IT environment, so storage leader EMC has created a new solution with a federated architecture that delivers an end-to-end view of all storage assets, single-pane management, and host-through-storage performance monitoring and analysis. ProSphere features agent-less discovery, Smart Groups policy management and tight integration with the latest EMC and VMware storage and virtualization technologies.

This is storage management for the cloud computing era, says EMC's Kevin Gray. Consisting of two modules--Core and Ionix Storage Configuration Advisor--ProSphere is fast and easy to install, with a virtual application deployable in less than an hour. It will manage more than 1.2 million volumes, 36,000 SAN ports and 18,000 hosts, he says, and should result in 75% less hardware. Initially targeted at performance use cases, subsequent releases will focus on additional functionality, and eventually ProSphere will replace EMC's Ionix Control Center.

General availability will be the end of July, but the product has been under development for years and there are currently 20 beta users, says Gray. He says that Storage Configuration Advisor, which was released in 2009, was the company's first version of this tool.

EMC gathered a tremendous amount of experience working with Control Center customers and listening to what they wanted, but the underlying architecture/technology was adopted from the companies EMC acquired during the last several years, says Bob Laliberte, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "Storage Configuration Advisor was the first product built using that new technology. A big difference is that EMC has rearchitected its SRM software with the cloud in mind. By leveraging this new technology platform, ProSphere is agentless, can deploy as a virtual application in far less time and begin delivering value on day one. In fact, EMC claims the installation can be done in less than 30 minutes and fewer than 10 steps."

While solutions from the likes of competitors HP and IBM still require agents, Laliberte says, most that still have agents are actively working to eliminate them or make them less intrusive. "Performance is a big area of concern for organizations, as well." EMC purpose-built ProSphere to make it easy for organizations to manage the transition across physical, virtual and storage cloud environments. It provides an end-to-end view of virtualized environments and performance monitoring information, and has tight integration with other domain solutions, such as VMware and EMC Storage Array technologies like Virtual Provisioning and FAST.

"Its new architecture will help lower ownership costs and allow it to scale--the first version of EMC ProSphere is capable of managing 18,000 hosts, 36,000 SAN ports, and over 1,200,000 volumes. EMC anticipates future releases will scale to even higher numbers to make it easier and faster for IT to deliver value to the business."

According to Gartner Research, EMC held the lion's share of the SRM market--$422 million of a $695.5 million market (2009). That was more than four times larger than its closest competitor, IBM ($102 million), which was followed by HP, NetApp, Symantec and CA.

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