Storage Management Software – Building Blocks for the Storage Utility


Storage Management Software -- Building Blocks for the Storage Utility

As the storage market evolves and the emphasis shifts from speeds and feeds to value-added software, not only the rules, but the players may change. We may see the future of storage dominated by companies like CA, BMC and Tivoli in addition to storage stalwarts like EMC and Veritas. Not to mention the hundreds of storage software startups knocking on the doors of solution providers and end users to raise awareness for their products.

With so many players and so many different offerings, it will be critical for end users to lean on solution providers to provide consulting and recommendations on how to make the right strategic decisions. Just trying to understand the different categories of software can confuse IT professionals who cannot afford to spend valuable time figuring out the difference between the 10 software firms that cold-called yesterday. To help clarify and segment the market, we look to the Enterprise Storage Group (ESG), a Mass.-based storage research and analyst firm. According to ESG, the market for storage management software is segmenting into five key areas.

Storage Resource Management

Software products that help answer the questions, Where is my data? How much is there? What does it look like? These products provide customers the ability to get a handle on current data and make better decisions about allocation and future purchases.

Storage Virtualization

Software that allows storage managers to create virtual pools of storage to be managed separately and distinctly from the physical infrastructure to which they may be attached. Capacity from these pools can be allocated to any system on the network.

Storage Network Management

Software providing end users the ability to view the topology of network storage resources with a physical view. Gives users a map of their storage network.

Storage Policy Management

Software providing a common repository and dashboard from which users can manage their environment. This software offers policy management and alert notification functionality. The software provides a rules-based engine allowing users to automate these functions.

Data Management

Software providing data movement and manipulation capabilities such as replication, volume management, backup and hierarchical storage management (HSM).

ESG believes it is inevitable and valuable for software firms to provide functionality in each segment with a single offering to build a unified storage framework. "It is inevitable that one or more software firms will develop a product integrating functionality from across these categories," says Tony Prigmore, senior analyst, ESG. "In the meantime, the opportunity for solution providers is tremendous to assist end users in deploying a variety of different tools to better address storage management."

In addition to new players and new products, storage management software will enable a much-talked-about concept in the storage market, the "Storage Utility." Storage Solution Providers (SSP) originally championed this model of a storage "dial tone," where users would plug into the wall and storage would be taken care of, just like electricity or telephone service. While few end users were willing to outsource their data to take advantage of this concept, many of them did say, "Great idea, I want to build a storage utility inside my company." The challenge at the time was that the software did not exist to make this a reality, and the SSPs were operating as outsourcers, not software firms. Both conditions have changed. Sophisticated software products now exist to help manage storage, and SSPs are now part of the driving force making this software a reality.

Prigmore believes that the biggest opportunity for solution providers today is to leverage storage management software and best practices to build internal storage utilities for clients. ESG defines a storage "utility" as a storage infrastructure capable of supporting quality of service and service level adherence to provide secure provisioning of storage resources across disparate users, applications, divisions or locations.

ESG has developed a model it believes can help solution providers and end users think through all aspects of storage management and get to the promised land of utility-based storage infrastructure.

"Without exception, dozens of end users have said these are the issues to be addressed and the functionality we need; now we just need someone to help us put together all the pieces," says Prigmore.

With the advent of storage management software, the storage space becomes even larger and more lucrative for solution providers. New storage management software will shape the industry by creating a new breed of storage solution provider focused on consulting and business process re-engineering, deploying storage applications similar to other enterprise applications such as ERP or CRM.

Storage Management: It's All About Strategy
Storage Management Software -- Building Blocks for the Storage Utility
Will Software Save the SSPs?
Islands of Virtualization
Storage Management Certifications -- Walking the Walk
Selling Enterprise Storage Management Software
Case Study -- A New Breed of SSP
It's All About ROI

Jeff Hine is a storage industry veteran and managing director of Clear Sight Consulting, based in New York City. Hine works with storage vendors, solution providers and consulting firms to grow their businesses and build alliances. Hine spent seven years with storage solution provider Articulent (now CNT), where he ran the marketing department and launched the industry's first storage professional services business in 1996. As a salesperson, consultant and marketer, Hine has worked extensively with end users and solution providers, managing rollouts of enterprise backup and storage area network technology. Hine started his career in storage at Digital Equipment Corp., where he was part of the channel development team for the StorageWorks product line. He can be reached at 917-441-1262 or at jeff.hine@clearsightconsulting.com.