Inter-vendor storage application management tools are huge enterprise software applications that are used for robust, reliable, available and effective data management. The applications are both hardware and software dependent. The choice of their implementation depends on the organizational needs and objectives. Various vendors develop and support these tools both for support of business and mission critical applications. Some of the leading Inter-vendor applications tools that have dominated the industry as well as organizational automations in the last two years include VERITAS, Oracle and NetApp (ESM, 2009).
VERITAS Its application tools provides for automated storage management software for enterprise business applications which have increased dependence on data from corporate storage infrastructure. VERITAS application tools are vital for boosting administrator productivity and reduce errors in automated storage administration. Among the tools it provides is the Storage Resource Management (SRM) software tools that help to automate the erroneous, tedious and routine tasks in storage administration.
The tools are able to predict when the problem is likely to happen and as a result the IT managers are able to head off these problems. The automated storage provisions help the administrators have a continuous, uninterrupted access to the enterprise storage resources. The storage administration by the automated SRM software can accomplish several tasks in use, management and applications of the storage allocations. The automation tools are able to gather data around the storage infrastructure and also give feedback on the successful storage policies and also provide input and reports on the storage environment.
The accurate and timely data help managers make informed and intelligent decisions on the future use of the storage. Further administrators are able to report and monitor on resource utilization and performance. When applications crash, the pagers beep and systems panic, it is the administrator that is on the receiving end of a pager to get the problem notification. Such situations prove to be very critical especially for business users due to degraded performance, equipment failure, resource shortages, and corruption of data or storage problem risks.
This interruption of application access may in turn lead to incalculable financial losses to the business or organization. Therefore the automated software provisioning has a framework that manages the growing inventory in the components of enterprise storage. When the SRM software tools are deployed into the automated storage provisioning framework, the administrator has an easier access to the event based interventions and rule based policies which adequately resolve and intercept potential problems before they reach their critical levels (Hussain, 2008).
The storage management application tool for a web based directory assistance runs on a web server as a data entry component with a more sophisticated management application that runs on a separate application server. When data is entered for the directory assistance, it is updated on the web server and staged on the repository application server and it is then automatically transferred to a relational database in another server by the directory management application.
For fault tolerance as provided by the database server, database tables are duplicated using the snapshots from the primary database. The services however are vulnerable to storage failures especially when space allocation to the web server, database and repository is threatened to be exhausted and as a result bring down the system. Organizations of all sizes and in all industries are dependent on enterprise technological infrastructure which means that there is immense need for automated storage management process to avert any failures in the enterprise storage infrastructure.
Therefore the SRM software tools and the automated storage provisioning should be implemented to solve the storage management problems. The rule based storage automations streamlines the administrator’s routine which improves productivity, reduces potential errors and system’s availability which impacts business activities and application availability. Oracle and NetApp The Automatic Storage Management (ASM) application tool provides a way to manage storage with an underlying database on a volume manager for the files on the database and an integrated file system.
Its gives an alternative to the volume management solutions and file systems for the storage management tasks in the database (Manning & Bridge, 2009). On the other hand NetApp filers simplify management and deployment of the enterprise data. The ASM and NetApp storage lower ownership costs and save on costs through the configuration of combined technology. There are combined benefits for using the NetApp for database layered applications and Oracle database which includes practices for deployment of ASM with the storage solutions networked by NetApp.
Oracle ASM on NetApp iSAN and SAN storage like Oracle on NAS storage by NetApp has alternative capability for volume management for customers on an Oracle server that can alter, drop and create SQL statements which simplifies the storage provisioning on the database. The NetApp and ASM storage application tools has features that complement one another in performance to avoid errors by balancing of workload and help utilize the disk drive resources available.
They also provide for support of online removal and addition of storage capacity that help maximize data availability and at the same time making configuration changes in the storage. The applications tools provide data security and availability since enterprises require high levels of data availability and protection whether there are component failures or faults storage subsystems. These tools include NetApp mirroring solutions that offer protection for disaster recovery requirements and business continuance while ASM provides protection against storage failures.
In shared storage, Oracle’s Real Application Clusters (RAC) provides scalability and availability for the Oracle database which requires all servers to have direct read and full access to the database files. The ASM implementation provides a simplified cluster file system with optimized functionality of the volume manager in the shared storage. The NetApp networked storage gives shared access as required by RAC while in SAN environments, ASM provides volume management by Oracle RAC and a capable clustered file system.
Both application tools have a rich assortment of storage data management that can be used separately or when combined depending on the customer enterprise requirements or the data infrastructure (Animi et al, 2009). The Automatic Storage Management application tool simplifies the management and configuration of storage management for the Oracle data files in its database. It also complements iSCSI SAN products for storage and NetApp Fibre Channel and while combined, they give full value to both technologies.
With several combinations for data storage management and protection exists in the market, the Oracle and NetApp partnership offer powerful combinations that offer best practices to meet business performance and high availability requirements. Storage Management Networking Industry Association (SNIA) SNIA has created Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) application tool in order to standardize and develop storage management technologies for networking and storage.
The SMI-S is for a standardized interface like SAN based storage management which are a challenge for interrogators and end-users to manage especially for multivendor SANs. The applications developed in most cases are unable to work together or are uncoordinated to perform tasks and deliver functionality, security and reliability for increased business efficiency. SMI-S therefore specifies protocols to manage communications with incorporated mechanisms for standard based management. It unifies the storage networks and also the management tools.
The set of interfaces will allow the control of heterogeneous storage by storage management software packages. This way storage administrator will create and delete volumes and zones and also monitor array controllers, switches and host bus adapters. The enterprises too can manage with a single management framework their storage capacity independent of manufacturers. The application features have a common and extensive management transport, which has unified and complete which provides control of Zones and LUNs in a SAN context.
It also has an automated discovery system with a newer approach in application of the CIM/WBEM technology. This specification helps to secure a reliable interface that can allow for the storage management interface classify, identify, control and monitor logical and physical resources in a SAN. The Technical Specification defines the management of a heterogeneous SAN and describes information from a SMI-S compliant CIM server available to a WBEM client. This information is object oriented, message based, XML based interface that is designed to support requirements of the managing devices through and in SANs.
Using the CIM-XML on HTTP standard which is an independent management protocol, vendors increase the functions and features of their products without having to redesign the management storage therefore reducing cost and extending functionality. The SMI-S functional capabilities include the version requirements as provided and stated in the interface. Among them is that it will be able to receive the asynchronous notifications incase the SAN configuration changes. It will also be able to identify the health of vital resources in a SAN and also receive the asynchronous notification incase the SAN resource’s health has changed.
It will also identify interconnects available performance in a SAN and receive the asynchronous notification incase a SAN’s interconnect performance changes. It will also identify zones that SAN enforces and help enable or disable, delete or create zones in a SAN. It will also identify the access rights and connectivity to SAN Storage Volumes and also enable or disable, delete or create access rights and connectivity to SAN Storage Volumes. These standards and specifications can only be used by a WBEM compliant and authenticated client.
The language chosen for managing information and other related operations is the XML language which will help traverse the organizational firewalls and installed at low costs (Cover, 2010). In midrange computing environments and enterprise class, the SANs are highly emerging due to various functions and applications such as sharing of huge storage resources between multiple systems and having a LAN free backup. Other applications include disaster tolerant and remote online mirroring of critical data and clustering fault tolerant applications and systems with one data copy.
While emergence of SANs accelerate, the informational industry requires a management interface for different classes of software and hardware products for multiple vendors to allow interoperation and reliability in order to monitor and control resources. For this reason SMI-S was created to define this interface and provide a standard for heterogeneous, functionally secure and reliable control and monitoring of resources in the complex distributed Inter-vendor SAN topologies. The SMI-S standard can simplify the huge storage management and reduced costs in storage administration but has not solved all storage problems.
Since storage is an integral part in IT infrastructure to be managed with a combination of servers, applications and networks, management solutions offered by SMI-S work for servers, storages and networks. In the storage infrastructure, it provides the end-users with a consistency for device discovery, configuration and status information. SMI-S defines the behavior and structure of devices and their management and configuration in the storage infrastructure and provides management of multiple storage devices from multivendor.
However, it does not solve the problem of incompatibility of hardware devices from the different vendors while its domain in storage management does not cover remote replication and backup. Conclusion There is countless demand by customers for open software from the computer industry vendors which is the reason multiple vendors such as Oracle and NetApp have had to work more closely to develop common standards, protocols and languages for storage and network management.
The multipurpose standards could help storage administrators take control of the distributed applications with a resulting inter-vendor, manageable and open information systems. Using standard based storage management application tools can help increase value of IT investments. Before the multivendor standards were developed by SNIA, the individual users would need to manage the storage devices with vendor specific tools while disparate information was integrated manually. Today’s management standards and specifications are increasingly interoperable while still maintaining competitive advantage among vendors through differentiation.