Today's focus: Storage management
By Anne Skamarock
In previous articles you have heard me extol the benefits of having a storage management plan, especially if you are experiencing high rates of data, and therefore storage growth. But what is storage management? Is it simply backup and recovery? Is it the monitoring of the storage and networking elements in data path for failure and, perhaps performance? Is it managing the data that is located out on the storage elements (tape, disk, etc)? Is it setting up RAID levels and monitoring capacity? Storage management is all of these and every storage management plan, and ideally the storage management software, should address each of these aspects.
There are three logical aspects to storage management: device management, access management and content management. Device management encompasses the management of the physical devices and their attachments. This is where you would configure the RAID level of a disk, collect alerts and alarms about the health of the devices and keep track of what level of software/firmware is currently installed on the devices. It also includes the management of the physical connectivity elements of the data path, whether they are, SCSI cables, Fibre Channel (or ESCON) networks, or IP networks.
Access management covers two management areas. The first area is the
management of how an application gains access to storage and data. Accessibility
must be addressed at every level of the data path. At the lowest level, it
includes logical unit number (LUN) partitioning of the storage devices. Moving
up a level is managing the interface between the operating system and the
storage. Which LUNs will be accessed by which drivers
The second area associated with access management is security. Who is allowed
to access the storage? This includes hosts, appliances, switches, etc. One can
choose to also include user and application security, or access through the
Finally, there is storage content management, which covers every aspect of
the data stored on the storage media. In the case of the disk, content
management includes the protection of the data via replication to other media
whether it's another disk subsystem or backup and recovery to tape, monitoring
user and total capacity, filtering data for unwanted/outdated data, and
enforcing policy given the state of the content and the
All aspects of storage management should be integrated into a common plan for best practices within your organization, no matter the size of the organization. As you can see, storage management can be quite complex. Unfortunately, there are very few companies that offer storage management software with all these aspects integrated into one package but there are some that come close such as Veritas, BMC and Computer Associates. If all else fails, there are many point products available that can be used with the common integration point being HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, Tivoli or similar management umbrellas. Due to the complexity of the problem, many smaller companies have chosen to focus on one aspect of the storage management problem to provide excellent customer value in that area. Some of those companies include InterSan, Legato, StorageNetworks and Finisar.
To contact Anne Skamarock:
Anne Skamarock is an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates (http://www.enterprisemanagement.com).
She has worked with networked storage for the last 15 years and is currently
focused on the storage practice within EMA. She can be reached at
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Copyright © 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.
Last Modified: March 9, 2008