What you will learn from this tip: The best tools for recreating SAN diagrams from zero documentation.
Here's a scenario: You have a SAN environment with eight Brocade switches, several EMC disk arrays and a StorageTek library. The two guys who were in charge of your SAN have left the company -- and didn't leave any SAN documentation behind.
This was the situation facing a SearchStorage.com reader. He wrote to our storage management expert Brett Cooper, looking for recommendations for tools that could collect SAN information and diagram the findings.
Your question is one that I have received a number of times, which proves that this is a challenge for many people. Having a view of the SAN infrastructure enables an administrator to understand the environment and the changes therein in detail. There are a variety of tools available that all have a variety of capabilities.
One tool that I like is a tool from Computer Associates, called BrightStor SAN Designer. This solution integrates seamlessly with Visio. There is a discovery phase and planning phase, which provides the ability to discover the SAN and then plan updates. In addition, the tool has a rules base that can be leveraged from best practices for setup and configuration of complex SAN environments. These rules were written in conjunction with the SAN hardware and software vendors and are updated regularly. There are also a variety of SAN management products including:
- Veritas CommandCentral Storage
- McData SANavigator
There are many others, including the tools that ship with the various Fibre Channel switch, HBA and storage solutions. Many customers are currently using the tools that come with their SAN vendor's hardware to effectively manage their environments. And many of these tools have matured and can provide some of the capabilities that you are looking for, if 100% of them. Since they are included at no charge, you may be able to create a full solution with a bit of your own time.
Each of these products does active discovery and management of the environment, providing not just a visual map, but eventing and alerting, as well as some built-in policy management. In addition, many of these offerings do active management and provisioning, including LUN provisioning and zoning. These tools integrate into the large enterprise management system so there is a single window onto the overall IT environment. I would suggest contacting these vendors and arranging for reviews after you have some homework to list out your specific requirements and goals in purchasing this type of software.
For more information:
How to: Solve your top storage headaches
Advice: How do I document my SAN?
About the author: Brett Cooper is a Technical Marketing Engineer at Network Appliance, Inc., as well as SearchStorage.com's storage management/best practices expert.