Symantec adds service-level templates to Storage Foundation

Admins can perform disaster recovery drills through snapshots of data

Symantec Corp. today announced Veritas Operations Manager 3.1 and Veritas Storage Foundation High Availability 5.1, the company's next generation family of storage management software.

Symantec said it has added "storage templates" or service levels that allow administrators to automate the type of storage -- based on performance and protection level -- allocated to applications.

Symantec has defined three templates of storage: Gold, Silver and Bronze, each of which is used to determine the type of disk, RAID level and whether storage is allocated through thin provisioning or through more typical common over-allocation methods.

For example, if an administrator sets a policy that all e-mail that does not contain company sensitive financial information is to receive Bronze-level storage, it might be stored on serial ATA (SATA) drives on a network-attached storage (NAS) system with RAID 6 protection. The administrator could also set up a gold policy for all SQL databases that would automatically store any data generated on expensive, high-performance solid-state drive (SSD) arrays, with replication and RAID 10 protection.

Niraj Zaveri, a Symantec senior product marketing manager, said system administrators typically have to provision storage to a host application server, then map those servers back to application requirements in a database, then create a storage volume or file system for it on an storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) system. The process, particularly in virtualized server environments, requires a lot of manual scripting.

"The point is that you can now just define the set of storage services available to your applications," he said. "This automates the identification of storage devices matching the storage services ... and automates the handling of the underlying SAN complexity."

In most data centers today, there are no policies for what data gets which storage, Zaveri said. It's mainly a ticket process where business units request a particular type of storage and capacity and administrators fill the ticket, often by over-allocating storage, which can waste capacity.

With Symantec's latest offering, server and storage administrators can decide on the importance of an application type and then set policies to handle that need each and every time.

"It's about using templates as much as possible," he said. "The new functionality in Veritas Operations Manager bridges the gap between server, database and storage administrators to increase storage utilization, scale operations, maintain compliance and ensure uptime and availability across Unix, Linux, Windows and VMware environments."

It also blurs the line between storage and server administrators.

"At the administrative level, we've seen [a] shift from being a specialist as a storage administrator toward a more general role where you may be [a] Unix administrator and your task [is] to tackle both [storage and Unix] systems," he said.

Symantec also added a reporting tool to its Operations Manager software. That tool is a set of built-in reports to automatically identify under-utilized storage resources, tracking utilization within database files and mapping that to disks and RAID groups in storage arrays. Storage not being used can then be returned by an admin to an available pool.

Among the new tools for active monitoring is one called "Fire Drill," which allows admins to simulate a system failure in order to test configurations for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Symantec's Fire Drill feature takes a snapshot of a physical or virtual production server and moves the data to a disaster recovery system, bringing the data online for testing.

Veritas Operations Manager 3.1 is available now and Veritas Storage Foundation HA 5.1 will be available in November. Symantec customers who purchase Storage Foundation HA can receive Veritas Operations Manager at no additional charge.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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