Cover Story: The Mobile Technology Revolution

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Monitoring and managing storage infrastructure directly through mobile devices is difficult for the simple reason that none of the tier-one storage vendors have suitable apps, except for NetApp, which worked with a solution provider to develop one.

Instead, solution providers depend on traditional indirect tools, including using a notebook PC logged in through a VPN, or a mobile device configured as a virtual desktop via apps such as Wyse PocketCloud.

More common are apps designed to monitor and manage backup jobs or cloud storage.

Remote storage management apps could be useful, said Sonia St. Charles, CEO of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Dell Compellent partner. “It would provide ease of use, much like the ability to check bank accounts without stepping into a bank,” St. Charles said.

St. Charles said she is trying to prod Dell to offer such an app, which would offer many benefits above the existing Dell storage portal. “Others could do it, but they’d need the API and the ability to develop it and get it approved,” she said. “But Dell really needs to do it.”

One solution provider, Reston, Va.-based Powersolv, couldn’t wait for its primary vendor, NetApp, to do it. Instead, it worked with NetApp to build its own Android app for NetApp storage, said Madhav Deshpandi, Powersolv’s senior vice president of technology. “As a value-add strategy, we need to fill in gaps,” Deshpandi said. “And remote management is a big gap.”

The new app is important when mission-critical functions need to be done immediately, Deshpandi said. It is just becoming available to the VAR’s customers and may be developed for sale to other NetApp solution providers within the next six months, he said.

Solution providers are mixed about the benefit of such apps. Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Cleveland-based Chi, said mobile devices might work for simple tasks, but they would be difficult to get ready for use with more complex operations. “People do it,” he said. “I guess if you work hard enough, you could hack your Wii to do remote management.”

—Joseph F. Kovar

NEXT: Virtualization

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