EMC Tackles Change Management

For now, EMC's new ControlCenter module is mostly for existing enterprise customers

March 31, 2005

3 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is adding change management to its SAN Resource Management (SRM) package, a move that reflects users' growing desire to tame increasingly complex storage networks.

SAN Advisor, intended for use mainly as a module for EMC ControlCenter (ECC), is designed to monitor a SAN and help users plan, test, and implement changes in storage devices. Industry analysts, surveys, and the early success of startup Onaro Inc. suggest these features are becoming necessary as SANs grow (see Onaro Eyes Data Centers).

A Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) user survey last year found growth, manageability, interoperability, and complexity among the top 10 SAN pain points. John Webster, an analyst at Data Mobility Group, says change management could help users deal with these issues.

Your SAN doesn’t remain static,” Webster says. “You want to minimize the manual tinkering you have to do to monitor your SAN and make changes.”

Here's how EMC takes on change management: SAN Advisor taps into EMC’s E-Lab device compatibility database, and uses that to determine whether devices such as disk arrays, HBAs, and switches will work together. It provides a list of all devices and connections on the SAN, monitors them for interoperability issues, helps users plan changes they want to make, and allows them to test the changes before implementing them. The product will become available in early May.“It lets you test changes before you go out there in production. If you’re going to make mistakes, better to make them in testing,” says analyst Mike Karp of Enterprise Mangement Associates.

Onaro made a name for itself by attracting at least 20 enterprise customers within a year of launching its SANscreen change management software (see Onaro Ships Change Manager and Shai Scharf, CEO & Co-Founder, Onaro). SANScreen goes beyond what EMC offers, with greater monitoring and simulation capabilities, according to analysts familiar with the products. SANScreen also comes at a bigger cost -- often running into six figures compared to SAN Advisor’s $5,000 starting price.

SAN Advisor is more similar to Computer Associates International Inc. (CA)'s (NYSE: CA) BrightStor SAN Designer. Perhaps its real target is AppIQ Inc.’sStorageAuthority Suite, which doesn’t have the in-depth modeling features of SAN Advisor. AppIQ has OEM deals with EMC SAN rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). (See HP OEMs AppIQ SRM.)

Another trend could be at work here. Webster says SRM is starting to evolve like network management software did, with standalone products giving way to multipurpose suites called frameworks. “EMC’s strategy is to make ECC the framework that ECC adds things to,” he says.

As part of the ECC framework, SAN Advisor loses most of its value for non-EMC customers. EMC group product marketing manager Jonathan Siegal says he expects mostly existing enterprise customers to implement SAN Advisor. Karp thinks EMC could be missing out because smaller shops that could also benefit might get priced out.“That [$5,000] might seem like chump change for large companies, but it could be a hefty investment for smaller companies,” Karp says. “It would be a good idea for EMC to come up with something to simplify change management for midsize companies.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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