Article

Akorri casts its SRM net on storage virtualization

Dave Raffo, News Director
Storage management startup Akorri Inc. today launched BalancePoint 2.0, expanding support for virtualized storage and adding a new performance metric to tune resource utilization.

When it first rolled out BalancePoint last year, Akorri won points for its agentless application

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that analyzes how storage devices, and physical and virtual servers, affect an application's performance. Now Akorri is aiming at companies
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implementing block storage virtualization, which can bring a new set of management issues.

"When you layer virtualization on top of virtualization, your management problems increase exponentially," said Mike Matchett, Akorri's director of product management.

BalancePoint 2.0 supports IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Hitachi Data Systems' Universal Storage Platform array-based virtualization. Matchett said Akorri will add support for other virtualization products, with Incipient Inc.'s Network Storage Platform (iNSP) and Network Appliance Inc.'s V-Series systems next and EMC Corp.'s Invista further down the road.

Other key additions to BalancePoint 2.0:

  • A GuidePoint performance index that uses a numerical score to show if servers and storage arrays are over- or underutilized for each application. Customers can take steps, such as consolidating or tiering, to improve performance according to the scores.

  • Scorecard reporting that shows how well VMware, physical servers, storage and applications are performing, to identify bottlenecks and other problems.

  • Availability as a virtual appliance – a preconfigured application packaged with an operating system inside a virtual machine. Earlier versions shipped on a hardware appliance that Akorri still offers.

    "Akorri was one of the first to recognize the importance of virtualization," said Bob Laliberte, an Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst. "Last year they made it a priority to support server virtualization. Now they're rounding out support with storage virtualization. They're trying to stay ahead of the curve."

    In a recent ESG survey, 24% of companies deploying server virtualization are also virtualizing storage and another 18% are planning storage virtualization over the next year, Laliberte said.

    A survey conducted by SearchStorage.com and Storage magazine also found strong interest in storage virtualization among storage managers. While only 12% of the survey respondents are using storage virtualization, 48% plan to implement or evaluate block virtualization in 2008. File virtualization was more popular, with 55% planning to implement or evaluate this year, but Akorri doesn't yet support file virtualization. In fact, missing support for file servers is one of the holes in BalancePoint.

    Ropes & Gray LLP, a law firm with headquarters in Boston, began using BalancePoint late last year to help manage about 500 TB on EMC storage systems. Senior infrastructure architect R. Craig Dodson said he's not using storage virtualization yet but is running VMware to virtualize servers. He said he's looking forward to the peformance index and scorecards of Balance Point 2.0.

    "I'm anxious to get them," Dodson said. "They can give us snapshots at a glance that quickly show you exactly what it found in your environment and what's wrong without you having to go digging for the information."

    Dodson said he began using BalancePoint to show him the "correlation between what's going on in the storage environment, and through the virtual stack and servers themselves. Being able to link those two things, server performance and storage performance, is what we couldn't get anywhere else." Dodson wants BalancePoint to manage more than storage and virtual servers. "I asked them, 'When are you going to do networking?' That's on the roadmap. I want to figure out where all the I/O is going through all layers of virtualization," he said.

    Laliberte added, "They can still leverage their analytics and algorithms to trigger and automated response. If the performance index shows performance is degraded, I'd like to see them automatically make a change. Now it's monitoring performance, not making changes."

    BalancePoint 2.0 is priced according to terabyte under management. It starts at $50,000 for 20 TB.


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