Storage demands at the enterprise level are growing exponentially with research from the Storage Networking Industry Association Europe during 2002 revealing a huge rise; nearly a tenth of respondents had seen a growth of over 200 per cent for the previous twelve months. This is great news for storage vendors but it’s bad news for network administrators as they struggle to keep up with demand. The easiest way of appeasing this voracious appetite is to add more storage devices with storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) appliances making this a simple process. However, it would be far more cost-effective simply to manage existing storage more efficiently, and this where Fujitsu Softek’s Storage Manager comes in as it looks to offer a powerful solution for managing and monitoring storage in heterogeneous environments comprising Windows, Solaris, OS/390, HP/UX, AIX and Linux platforms. Developed over two years, and only launched mid-2002, Storage Manager provides the tools for managing all networked storage resources from a single centralized console. However, it goes much further than merely gathering information and reporting as it uses policies to automate many procedures allowing administrators to be more proactive in problem solving. To test Storage Manager we used a full SAN environment comprising a Brocade Silkworm 2800 fibre-channel switch, a quad of Dell PowerEdge 1550 rack servers, and a disk array configured as a JBOD (‘just a bunch of disks’). To be included in the management picture, each system requires a small agent utility installed locally. This is a swift process although a deployment facility to speed this up has yet to be released and although this latest version includes a Linux agent, support for NetWare servers will not be available until later this year. Intuitive
We found the main Storage Manager console very intuitive with all functions accessible from a group of five icons arranged to one side. Under the Storage icon you can access all information gathered by the agents about servers and storage. An SQL Server database is used to store this information and the console allows you to easily build up sophisticated queries and save them for future use. You can create basic displays of, for example, all servers running a particular OS, or those with free space below or above a specific level. You can also go deeper by interrogating all file systems and drilling down to view specific file details. ‘Actions’ carry out sets of commands in response to an event and are also used to determine when data is pulled from the remote agents. Detailed file structure information is gathered up to four times each day and these intervals can be customized for individual systems. Basic information about storage usage can be collected more frequently but Storage Manager cannot provide details on unformatted disk space so you can’t use it to create new drives or partitions. A variety of actions are supported so you can automatically delete directories, folders or files on a system that has breached a storage threshold and send alert messages to groups of users. There are a wide range of options for specifying files. You can identify those to be deleted by their full name and extension or use criteria based on size or creation, modification or access date. Archiving is supported so the data can be copied elsewhere before being removed, and you can send commands to backup products such Veritas NetBackup and Legato Networker to secure the data to tape first. Another useful feature is the option to preview your actions before letting them go live. Storage Manager maintains detailed log files and provides extensive reporting facilities so you can keep a close eye on all storage related activity. It uses a similar query building tool to that provided in the storage element of the application, allowing very detailed reports to be created, but it was disappointing to see that the information gathered can only be printed and not exported into another application. Expensive but powerful with it…
Storage Manager is clearly a powerful enterprise storage management solution with a wealth of easily accessible tools and reporting functions. However, it also has an enterprise-level price tag. The amount you’ll save by efficiently managing your storage should more than pay for this, however.