I’m still getting comments on the ‘Extreme Cash Cow’ entry I wrote last year as a diatribe against the current state of the SRM market. I feel it’s probably about time that I updated it.
Firstly, since then I have moved jobs and no longer have responsibility for day-to-day storage management, I do obviously keep an eye on things but unfortunately it means that I cannot really influence how SRM develops in my organisation. This is a bit sad as actually I had a very positive response from EMC who took the brunt of my diatribe and I have been unable to take them up on their offer to work with me on understanding what I would like to see from a SRM product. I do hope that someone in the organisation I work for does take them up and help them understand what a large storage end-user requires and where the issues are.
Anyway, I thought I would put some thoughts together about the challenges that SRM tools or at least pose some questions.
Is the problem one of scale and complexity? If you look at what we expect the SRM tool to do, we expect currently expect it to understand our storage environment end-to-end. So look at what an SRM tool needs to do.
- It needs to understand the array and how that is configured — easy
- It needs to understand the switch fabric — fairly easy
- It needs to understand the IP fabric — moderately hard
- It needs to understand the hosts/servers, including virtual — moderately hard
- It needs to understand the applications — hard
- It needs to be able to correlate all the above information into useable and consistent model — potentially very hard
So to be fair to the SRM vendors, what they are trying to do is non-trivial and we the end-users don’t always make their jobs easy. We have a duty to ensure that organisational standards are set, adhered to and maintained otherwise the data consistency checking becomes horrible. We have to give them a chance.
Do we want an end-to-end management tool which allows us to understand our whole IT infrastructure because the relationship between storage and data is intrinsically linked?
What do we actually want from a SRM tool which will make it useful to us so that we do not carry on cursing the vendors and righting our own scripts? Perhaps we should hand over the contents of our individual script/tools directories and say, we want a tool which does all this and does it reliably. Perhaps the SRM vendors should send out an investigatory team wearing red shirts to discover what the storage civilisations are up to?
We can probably say that we don’t want ECC and its ilk; perhaps SanScreen is closer to what we want. I suspect that is very much the case; we do not want an all-singing, all-dancing provisioning/configuration tool but we do want something which gives us an immediate view of our storage environment and allows us to drill down the layers into the individual components getting performance, capacity and configuration details? It would be incredibly useful if it understood the reality which is a heterogenous storage environment with SAN, NAS and in future Object/Cloud.
And vendors if you continue to expand the number of different storage families in your product range and do not standardise on your management APIs, interfaces etc, you are making your job harder. And even in a product family, 37 varieties of LUN are not making your job any easier. As part of the development track of any new feature; the question needs to be asked, how will this be managed and the question needs to be asked early in the development cycle.
So what do you want your SRM tool to do?