Storage Resource Management (SRM) is changing, evolving, from its previous focus on generalised storage space efficiency to providing a framework inside which specific storage problems are solved. That's a basic message from Softek.

The company has evolved its product offer from a generalised SRM offering to a focus on specific storage issues, under a see, move, recover rubric, inside a unifying framework. It wants its customers to know that it has not abandoned SRM, decidedly not.

Amena Ali, senior VP of marketing, said: "We've changed the tack of how we approach SRM. Historically it was space utilisation. That never took off because the price of disk didn't justify it."

Jef Sisilli, SRM product marketing manager, said: "Traditional SRM has been very strategic in nature. It captured soft ROI dollars. We want to enable customers to gain hard ROI dollars, such as are gained from migration and replication. So we look to automate manual activities."

"Drawing a SAN topology map is an entry ticket. Being able to automate storage activities, being able to have chargeback - these provide real ROI."

Back in June, 2005, Softek CEO Steve Murphy said: "I think SRM has stalled. People are relying on their primary disk vendor for this tool."

There was a falling away of SRM companies. Ali said: "We're probably the largest ISV left in the SRM market - the last of the Mohicans if you will. We have over 300 customers world-wide and our focus is now to take SRM to the next level, to deploy SRM for specific pain points for customers."

For this you need a visualisation product, which Softek has, and storage problem solving technology, which Softek also has, specifically in the data migration area. It is going to emphasise a unifying software layer. Ali said: "We will launch in the first half of 2006. SRM will become a unifying layer, an umbrella, over a whole array of products, bringing them into one cohesive whole. In a nutshell we're definitely in the SRM business."

"We're trying to unify our products under one GUI: Performance Tuner; SAN view; Space Optimiser; and Migration Manager. This will be added as one button."

There will be a planning tool wizard helping users with data migration stages: assessing what servers and storage you have; planning a migration of data from existing to new drive arrays; activating the migration; and validating it.

Sisilli said: "We think of Migration Manager as our second generation SRM."

SMI-S and Aperi
Recently SMI-S has been in the news as a standard way to interface to storage devices and functions. HP has bought AppIQ because of its SMI-S prowess. Ali said: "SMI-S is an industry standard. We absolutely support it and did so from the get-go."

One problem area with SMI-S is that: "Each manufacturer presents SMI-S information in a different way." Another is that: "SMI-S doesn't present performance-related information."

Softek is working to understand how to use the SMI-S interface to the best advantage of its SRM customers: "We're studying what SMI-S will provide in a meaningful way so we can provide deep information."

Regarding Aperi Ali said: "Our partner Fujitsu, who OEMs our products, is part of Aperi. We are evaluating what that means for Softek and talking to Fujitsu."

Migration matters
Softek's migration technology has received a new plaudit. The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) has tested the EMC/Softek Logical Data Migration Facility (LDMF) product and found it to be a “no-brainer” solution for mainframe environments that need to perform data migrations. The test compared LDMF with the DFDSS utility from IBM. It found:

- LDMF enables online and near-transparent migration of data so that this process can be done during regular business hours
- LDMF is extremely useful in performing data migrations and ultimately solving the unit control block (UCB) constraint issues
- Application unavailability for migrating 2GB of data was 45 minutes with DFDSS, versus four minutes with LDMF. For a 100 GB data migration, DFDSS would require more than 37 hours of downtime, while still only yielding four minutes of downtime with LDMF. Also, depending on the application, downtime with LDMF could be less than four minutes or eliminated.
- DB2 table updates ran without interruption during an LDMF migration and were verified successfully after the migration had completed.

ESG senior analyst Tony Asaro said: “Traditional migrations can take hours or even days depending on the amount of data being moved. ESG Research has found that this is unacceptable, with downtime creating a negative impact on revenue. It is also unreasonable to demand of the IT staff to take time during off-hours – if such a thing exists anymore – and weekends to perform these tasks.”

“From our perspective, LDMF seems to be a no-brainer solution for mainframe environments that need to perform data migrations." Free downloads of the ESG Labs validation report for LDMF are now available at: www.enterprisestrategygroup.com, also at www.emc.com, and at www.softek.com.