SolarWinds Storage Manager: SRM for virtual server infrastructures

SolarWinds Storage Manager turns storage resource management technology acquired from Tek-Tools into a management tool for storage in virtual environments.

SolarWinds today unveiled its Storage Manager software designed for monitoring, reporting and end-to-end mapping of virtualized servers and the connected shared-storage infrastructure.

Storage Manager is based on the Tek-Tools technology that SolarWinds gained when it acquired the company in February 2010 for $42 million. SolarWinds has combined Tek-Tools’ Storage Profiler and Virtual and Server Profiler into Storage Manager to provide storage resource management (SRM) and visibility into the performance of storage and virtualized server infrastructures, said Brian Radovich, product manager for SolarWinds Storage Manager.

Storage Manager is installed on a server, and agents collect the data from storage infrastructure and VMware’s ESX VirtualCenter. The application does end-to-end mapping between virtualized servers and the storage, providing users with greater visibility of the connections between the systems. It monitors and reports on heterogeneous arrays so users can see capacity levels, how the LUNs are carved up and performance data. The product also pulls data from VMware and Microsoft Windows and tells the administrator that a particular virtual machine is connected to a LUN from a certain array within a shared-storage environment. As part of this release, Storage Manager supports EMC VNX and IBM v7000 arrays.

“We talk to VirtualCenter and we look across all arrays,” Radovich said. “We talk to SMI-S [Storage Management Initiative Specification] or the arrays’ own APIs, SNMP [Simple Networking Management Protocol] or Telnet.”

SolarWinds Storage Manager, which can run on virtual or physical machines, can perform file analysis to determine how old a file is and who owns it. It also determines how much storage capacity is available so the administrator can make a judgment on when the storage will run out. The company added a thin provisioning feature to Storage Manager that shows by how much an administrator has over-provisioned storage.

Storage Manager also has been integrated with SolarWinds’ Orion Performance Monitor product. The integration module adds a “storage” tab to the Orion interface with links into Storage Manager’s main console and events view. This allows users to see a summary of the storage capacity and usage, as well as drill down into the storage data, from within the Orion frame. 

Also, users can see all the events triggered by the rules and thresholds that they configure, such as high disk I/O, servers or VMs. This does not give access to the full Storage Manager suite, just those items a user can drill down to from the screens showing arrays, storage capacity, usage and forecasting reports, VM storage utilization, VM storage I/O, and server VMs, according to Radovich.

Bryan Bond, senior system administrator for eMeter, which is based in San Mateo, Calif., has been using SolarWinds’ Storage Manager for several months. He said his company uses it to monitor and report on its infrastructure, which includes about 20 physical servers, nearly 290 virtual machines, two SANs and one NAS system.

Bond said he can get a holistic view of his entire infrastructure since Storage Manager collects data such as storage usage and performance and data from individual SAN units. The software also collects data from VirtualCenter so he can get performance and usage information from the hosts and guest operating systems.

“It’s all connected, so I don’t have to get my information from multiple panes of glass,” Bond said.  “If a volume has high usage or is about to run out of space, I can click on the volume and Storage Manager will take me to where the physical or virtual system is located, and it lets me know what is actually using that space.

“If I have a performance problem, I can look at anything to do with the system in one place,” he said. “And it shows me if you are using too much CPU, or if you have high disk access or large memory access. The end result is [that] I see my entire environment in one place rather than viewing different pieces of my environment from different tools. I also get long-term historical access to that information.”

Pricing for Storage Manager starts at $2,995 per disk.

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