Creating cohesive storage management

Storage orchestration software holds the promise of seamless management. But for now, enterprise customers are stuck with point tools.

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Neverfail says its software provides "application-aware" disaster recovery and high availability for applications in hybrid public/private clouds. It does this, says CTO Paddy Falls, by intercepting file system updates from applications and storing a copy of the application on other servers on-premises or in the cloud. It allows the high-availability or disaster recovery server to run on a different platform than the production server, he says, and to mix physical and virtual servers or different hypervisors. The software doesn't, however, support object-based storage services.

Some tools focus on specific applications. Sanbolic recently announced the first public cloud support for Sanbolic AppCluster, a module within its Melio data management software that provides failover/migration, load balancing and quality-of-service support for Microsoft SQL Server.

As more routine storage functions are automated, and as businesses focus more on service levels rather than on the mundane tasks required to achieve them, the task of storage administration will move "from a pure storage administrator to maybe a DBA or maybe a policy administrator," Reichman predicts. "Instead of storage administrators doing only storage, expect to see more application administrators managing the infrastructure, [with] some of what was the server and storage team moving into those application or workload teams."

However, says Shahin Pirooz, CTO at hosted services provider CenterBeam, "you still need a core team of people to configure the orchestration" and build the infrastructure for higher-level administrators to manage.

Customer demands will eventually force vendors to provide more complete orchestration. Until then, CIOs who are evaluating storage management tools should find out which specific storage and hypervisor platforms the vendors support, determine which functions or applications they focus on and, above all, assess the total cost of ownership and ease of use of their offerings.

As Conway says, "I'd rather have three highly capable and easy-to-use tools than one tool that doesn't do as much as the three and is harder to manage."

Scheier is a veteran technology writer. You can contact him at

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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