Storage resource management software adapts for virtual servers

Third-party storage resource management software tools have been revamped to provide a greater view of virtual servers. Common features include automated allocation and configuration monitoring and alerting.

Like array vendors, third-party storage resource management (SRM) tools have been recast to provide greater visibility into virtual servers, providing an end-to-end view from the virtual machines (VMs) and servers to the arrays. Much of the value of SRM tools now comes from the ability to automate allocation processes, monitor changes and alert users of configuration changes that violate best practices or an IT organization's policies.

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This emphasis on virtual servers was added after users complained that server virtualization tended to reduce visibility, management and utilization.

VMware is now commonly supported by SRM vendors not tied to storage arrays, and SRM vendors are working to make their tools more tightly integrated with Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenServer and, in some cases, Microsoft Corp.'s Hyper-V.

For instance, Symantec Corp. started allowing Citrix's XenServer hypervisor to use Veritas Storage Foundation for storage management in 2008, and the latest Veritas Storage Foundation upgrade released this year has tighter integration with Microsoft Hyper-V. Veritas Storage Foundation now lets Hyper-V customers dynamically grow and shrink volumes, and includes snapshot and replication capabilities for Hyper-V virtual machines.

CA Inc.'s Storage Resource Manager, NetApp Inc.'s SANscreen and other SRM tools not tied to specific storage arrays, such as Akorri Inc.s' BalancePoint, SolarWinds' Profiler (formerly Tek-Tools' Profiler) and Aptare Inc.'s StorageConsole, have supported VMware for several years. One of their selling points is letting customers see if they've allocated the right amount of storage for virtual servers.

Storage virtualization vendors such as DataCore Software Corp. and FalconStor Software Inc. were also early supporters of VMware and have thrown their support behind Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V as well. For instance, the DataCore Transporter Option for the company's SANmelody and SANsymphony management applications performs conversion between physical and virtual servers. The utility allows a server to be converted from a physical Windows box to a Hyper-V image, then to a VMware ESX image and then back to a logical unit number (LUN) mapped to a physical server.

FalconStor's Network Storage Server (SSS) support for VMware includes a virtual appliance that creates a SAN on a VMware ESX Server, similar to a virtual appliance Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. sells with LeftHand SANIQ software. (HP is also working on a  virtual appliance for Hyper-V.)

This was first published in April 2010

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