Another Look at Storage Automation

Maybe storage automation isn't just wishful thinking

November 28, 2007

2 Min Read
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Maybe it's time to reconsider storage automation.

Not long ago, industry sources were questioning whether the move toward data center automation could include storage. After all, storage managers are notoriously unwilling to relinquish control of anything related to data backup or protection.

With this week's unveiling of pending automated storage applications, Hewlett-Packard may get some of those managers to reconsider. HP claims that by mid-2008, users will be able to tie the provisioning elements of HP's Storage Essentials software to the Application Storage Automation System (ASAS) product it acquired with the purchase of Opsware earlier this year.

Maybe HP's move will liven interest in this area. Storage continues to be rare in the automation equation, which itself is limited in popularity. A recent survey shows that automation of any kind isn't a big priority for IT managers, particularly given reduced budgets.

But at least one analyst says empirical evidence shows automation's popularity is growing. "There is increasing demand for automation. The basic value of it is huge efficiency in terms of operating expenses," says analyst Mike Karp of Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).By homing in on provisioning, HP's taken aim at just one area storage managers may wish to automate. Other candidates for streamlining include restoring lost files from backup; configuring desktops from a SAN; and provisioning virtual servers for software development.

HP's move could spur existing suppliers who've been taking their time about automating storage: Some SRM vendors, such as Onaro, have made moves toward automation, though none can yet claim anything comprehensive. Data center automation vendors, like BladeLogic, say they'll be integrating storage into their wares, though their focus remains mostly on the server environment.

On the downside, HP's announcement is linked chiefly to the vendor's own wares. Similarly, announcements from

EMC earlier this year favored EMC's products.

Will things change, as more big vendors like HP feed into users' desire to save money?

Maybe. EMA's Karp thinks the industry isn't anywhere near the kind of cross-domain integration that supports heterogeneous management and could most benefit IT pros. "The real value of automation will be when we can automate storage, servers, networking, and security," he says. "Today, a couple of vendors can do one or two. Nobody can go into the data center and manage it all."It may be a long time before we see any kind of do-all automation. Meanwhile, progress in "point products" is a step in the right direction.

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  • BladeLogic Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Enterprise Management Associates

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Onaro Inc.

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