EMC Gets Smarts To Automate Storage Management

Unveiled at the EMC World conference in Boston, the applications are based on technology EMC obtained with its acquisition of Smarts in February 2005.

The first app, EMC Smarts Storage Insight for Availability, works with EMC's ControlCenter storage resource management and device management software to automatically discover Fibre Channel storage network elements and the interrelationship between those elements and IP networks, said Chris Gahagan, senior vice president of resource management for the EMC Software Group.

A key problem in storage management is the difficulty in understanding the root of any problems in a storage network, Gahagan said. For example, if a port in a Fibre Channel network goes down, it can impact hosts and arrays connected across the network.

Storage Insight for Availability shows the relationships between IP networks and storage devices and automatically updates the relationships as they change. That allows the identification of the impact of failures of Symmetrix and Clariion arrays, Fibre Channel SAN switches and ports, and host-bus adapter cards, giving users information they need to solve the problem, Gahagan said.

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Because Storage Insight for Availability shows the root-cause correlation of SAN and IP network component failures, it cuts the time to respond to the failure and minimizes the impact on a customer's business, helping the customer take the proper corrective action the first time, Gahagan said.

The other tool, EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager, is resource management software for discovering and creating a realtime, interactive model of a company’s application environment. The app manages a company's storage infrastructure in the context of which applications are running, according to Gahagan.

"Without the applications running and without knowing what the applications are, the infrastructure is meaningless," he said.

It’s important to know how an application is impacted by problems with a network node or any other storage issue, but it’s difficult to determine that relationship, Gahagan said. Though customers know which applications are running, they usually don’t know where those applications are running.

"If the customer did a survey and found out where every application is running, the next day they'd be wrong," he said.

Application Discovery Manager automatically discovers and maps application relationships. It’s preconfigured on a 1U appliance that’s connected to a span port on a network, where it sniffs all data packets for their headers and payloads, plus their origins and destinations. It also looks at the volume of the packets crossing the network. All of that information combines to show when an application is up or down, as well as when an application is deployed to a new location.

"It's a foolproof way to understand the application and the infrastructure," Gahagan said.

Just because EMC is offering the ability to understand the relationship between the applications and the networking infrastructure, it doesn’t mean the Hopkinton, Mass., storage giant is getting into the application management business, according to Gahagan. Instead, customers' current application management tools can use the information from Application Discovery Manager to manage the applications.

"It gives you insight into when you need to use your application management tools," he said.

One Application Discovery Manager appliance is needed for each network segment. The Application Discovery Manager interfaces with EMC's ControlCenter application to discover storage arrays from multiple vendors. However, it will eventually be able to interface directly with other vendors' arrays, Gahagan said.

Storage Insight for Availability and Application Discovery Manager are available now. Storage Insight for Availability costs about $750 to $1,000 per Tbyte of capacity. Application Discovery Manager is priced on a per-node basis, with 2,000 nodes costing about $220,000.