Symantec Revamps SRM Offering With Virtualization Support


Storage resource management, or SRM, applications look at storage capacity and utilization to help automate the collection, monitoring, reporting, and sometimes the management of a customer's data. Information collected with SRM can aid in such functions as event scheduling and capacity planning.

Various vendors have come out with SRM applications over the years, but few have had real staying power.

Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of the Data Center Management Group at Symantec, said that SRM has been a very hard problem to solve, mainly because a true SRM solution has to support all the different components from multiple vendors that make up a company's storage infrastructure.

SRM also has to scale to thousands of devices, and has to be 99 percent accurate, to be of real use, Soderbery said. "They have to be more accurate than the manual process many companies use," he said.

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Symantec addressed many of these issues about 18 months ago with the introduction of CommandCentral 4.3, and it is furthering that goal with this week's release of CommandCentral 5.0, Soderbery said.

CommandCentral 5.0 now supports "everything" in the customer environment, including servers, arrays, and virtualization, Soderbery said.

For instance, new to the application is support for virtualization under VMware.

CommandCentral 5.0 now does discovery and mapping of guest operating systems to VMware ESX servers to the back-end arrays, and reports on the total capacity allocated, capacity claimed, and the percent of capacity which is used by ESX and the guest operating system, he said. "SRM doesn't just tie storage to physical machines, but also to virtual machines," he said.

It also supports storage virtualization tools, including IBM's SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi Data Systems' TagmaStore, Soderbery said. It can discover and decompose virtual LUNs to raw disk, and reports on raw and provisioned storage and used capacity. "It can see when a server is connected to a virtual LUN," he said. "We're a market-driven company, and we see enough market share for SVC and TagmaStore to include this feature."

Also new is support for EMC's Symmetrix SRDF and its Clariion SnapShot, SnapView, and MirrorView data replication software. It previously worked with Network Appliances' Snap Mirror and Hitachi Data Systems' Shadow Image, he said.

CommandCentral 5.0 now scales to about 3,000 host servers, about 6 petabytes of storage capacity, and 12,000 switch ports, compared to about 1,000 servers with version 4.3, Soderbery said.

SRM's primary impact will be with customers trying to run storage as a service, as the need to be able to see their storage, see what services they can offer, the costs of those services, and how to implement them, Soderbery said.

One of those companies implementing SRM to provide managed storage services to multiple customers is Incentra Solutions, a Boulder, Colo.-based managed storage service provider.

Bill Stith, (stet) managing director of storage services at Incentra, said his company has used CommandCentral to understand customers' storage usage and to profile their data to help design their storage architecture to take advantage of different tiers of storage based on performance and cost requirements.

However, Stith said, Incentra has been using its own proprietary solution to manage that storage on a day-to-day basis, unless customers specifically request the use of CommandCentral.

That could change with CommandCentral 5.0, Stith said. "With 5.0, we get the ability to have a master storage environment, with separate security zones for customers," he said. "We have over 100 customers that we manage disk and tape for. This allows us to look at their storage overall and to drill down according to security zones."

Stith said he also likes how CommandCentral now supports over 80 percent of the storage devices used by Incentra and its customers, with those unsupported products often coming mainly from startups.

Also important to Incentra is support for VMware, Stith said. "We need to map the virtual servers to the host servers and storage," he said. "5.0 provides mapping with VMotion, so we can have two virtual machines working together for failover. When a server fails over, we need to map the new server to the mirrored disk, and when the server comes back, we need to fall back to the primary storage. It can get pretty harried about which is the correct copy of the data."

Stith said he cannot say for sure if and when Incentra will adopt CommandCentral 5.0, which is expected to be fully available in the next two months. "We can't say before we do our testing," he said. "But from conversations with Symantec, it looks promising. In their demo labs, it looks good."

Symantec depends on the channel for what Soderbery called a "healthy amount" of its SRM business. The vendor works mainly with larger enterprise solution providers, and is looking to bring CommandCentral to a wider range of partners, he said.

For solution providers, Symantec has created a $25,000 storage assessment offering which they can use to look at a customer's current storage environment, what it could look like with optimization, and what it would take to do the optimization, Soderbery said. "VARs with services capabilities can build a practice on this," he said.

CommandCentral 5.0 lists for about $1,000 per server in small and midsize enterprise environments, Soderbery said.