Nikhil Premanandan is a marketing analyst at ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company.
According to SAP, 90 percent of the data in the world has been created in the last two years. The company further estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day as a result of the boom in social networking, the rising number of Internet and smartphone users, and the content being shared online. Meanwhile, in a recent study, Cisco estimates that mobile data traffic will grow at a CAGR of 61 percent from 2013 to 2018.
According to IDC, enterprise storage typically grows by 35 to 40 percent per annum, driven in large part by the adoption of virtualization. Desktop and server virtualization have taken the physical storage outside the appliance thereby creating a need for specialized storage devices. The data in these devices is backed up over and over again adding to the need for more and more storage space.
Where will you store this abundance of data?
Enterprises now face the challenge of selecting the right devices to store their precious data. They can go with either a single vendor or a multi-vendor storage strategy. Introducing a second storage vendor helps companies get the best prices from vendors and thereby reduces total cost of ownership by at least 15 to 25 percent over a five-year time frame, according to Gartner. It also helps avoid vendor lock-in.
While a multi-vendor strategy helps reduce costs, it also requires the integration of myriad devices in a storage network, which increases complexity. After all, each device type comes with its own management console. Integrating all of the tools into a single console is a challenge for the storage admin who must counter-productively juggle between different consoles to isolate a performance bottleneck.
Even with those separate tools, the admin is not able to isolate the layer in which the issue resides, e.g., the RAID, switch or server layer. Managing systems in a multi-vendor storage environment can be extremely difficult. With different vendors supplying different device types, each with different attributes, a new set of integration and monitoring challenges has emerged.
Keeping the chaos under control
Third-party, multi-vendor tools can be a good option for storage admins who want to monitor their storage arrays, FC switches, tapes, and host and backup servers from a single pane of glass. Such tools typically monitor the basic statistics of hardware and its components like disks, controllers, switch ports and LUNs.
Some of the tools provide a dynamic, graphical representation of the entire storage infrastructure to help the admin isolate issues instantly. With this feature, interconnect issues and port malfunctions can be identified at a glance. Many of the enterprises do not have a scientific approach for forecasting their storage requirements. Automated scheduled reports on the configured capacity, capacity used and capacity forecast go a long way in justifying storage purchases.
Storage admins may believe these features are exhaustive, but they would be overlooking the most important part of any storage network — backup and recovery. Backup servers are an essential element of any backup strategy, and monitoring backup servers for their performance and health is inevitable. Multi-vendor storage monitoring tools wouldn’t truly be “multi-vendor” if the storage admin had to switch to the backup server’s web client to monitor backups. For a comprehensive storage monitoring solution, integration of backup servers is essential.
Staying current among rapid change
Current trends like flash devices and SDS are gaining momentum, and vendors need to add support for these devices to ride this wave. With rapid innovations in storage technologies and trends, vendors have to ensure that their solutions offer the latest features to attract the early adopters.
Admins should select a storage management vendor that has augmented its product to include all the aspects of a storage environment. The solution should be comprehensive to ensure that admins do not have to use another tool for monitoring their storage infrastructure. Only then can multi-vendor storage management tools truly empower storage admins to effectively manage the data explosion taking place on their networks.
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