A Hopeless Situation

Storage automation will be a sophisticated sideshow to other IT automation wares

August 31, 2007

2 Min Read
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IT pros looking for a standard mechanism to incorporate storage into general-purpose IT management frameworks would be wise to abandon hope -- at least if they plan to spend less than $500,000. Experience teaches that the chances of a unified IT management interface for out-of-the-box use are slim to none.

For one thing, it's apparent by now that vendors of at least one kind of IT management system -- so-called IT automation platforms -- are intent only on servers. (See IT Automation Bypasses Storage.) Vendors like BladeLogic are addressing the needs of customers in large enterprises where storage and servers are separate fiefdoms. Server managers don't want contact with underlying storage complexities, and to some extent, storage managers are protective of their bailiwick and distrustful of attempts by "outsiders" to automate it.

On top of this, the many attempts to standardize IT management itself have largely failed. Sure, years back SNMP became a de facto way for devices and software to report their basic functions to a central console. But over time, efforts to build on this have simply evaporated. The truth of the matter is that big vendors just don't want heterogeneous management standards, period.

Readers of a certain age, I ask: Remember DME? WBEM? CMIP? NMF? For more than a decade, lots of effort and money were thrown into efforts toward a standard interface for computers and networking gear. But products like HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, and IBM Tivoli managed to stay largely untouched by all of them, despite appearing supportive.

Today, we have similar feel-good efforts in Microsoft's SML (service modeling language) and the CMDB Federaton. But these will go the way of past projects.This isn't to say customers can't have their storage kit integrated to some extent into their IT automation wares. They can, if they're willing to pay custom fees to get it done. Also, it's possible to get all kinds of alerts passed to your central console. But when it comes to actually managing your storage equipment under the same umbrella system used for servers and/or networking gear, give it up.

Customers have had to accept the fact that while vendors move their lips about heterogeneous management of all kinds, it's basically hooey. There's simply no business sense for equipment suppliers to render their wares manageable by the tools of their rivals.

At the same time, we can expect to see lots of third-party "point products" that attempt to unify various IT and storage functions. Onaro and other SRM vendors are is dedicated to taking up the slack left by the big storage suppliers. And the seasoned veterans out there will recall that third parties finally carried the day when it came to managing networks and servers.

So give up hope, and take heart!

  • BladeLogic Inc.

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Onaro Inc.

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