Business Continuity

Optimizing your storage strategy with CommandCentral

Answers to common questions on SRM and CommandCentral


1. What is the importance of management of storage resources for any enterprise?

Enterprises today are faced with escalating costs for managing stored data and keeping it available for business critical applications. With data volumes growing at unprecedented rates, compliance requirements adding another concern to already overburdened and understaffed IT departments, and budgets remaining relatively flat, the need for storage management is not only critical but increasing. Indeed, IT organizations are struggling to deal with the compounded growth of storage, estimated to be 55 percent for the average company. The way these organizations see it, by making better use of existing storage resources through storage resource management, they can drive down the cost and complexity typically associated with data growth. It also allows the IT organization to start delivering storage as a service and ensure that their infrastructure investments are aligned with business needs while leading to improvements in productivity and profitability.

2. What are the various means available for an enterprise to take good care of its storage assets?

The primary means available for an enterprise to manage its storage assets include: (1) Point tools from storage hardware vendors (2) Point solutions available from software vendors (3) Homegrown tools and (4) Comprehensive solutions for heterogeneous environments.

The problem with the first three approaches is that it leads to a proliferation of point tools in the customer’s environment and increases their total cost of management. Comprehensive solutions enable customer’s to have a centralized reporting solution for their entire heterogeneous environment and reduces their total cost of management. It also allows customers to correlate data from disparate systems and begin to manage storage as a business.

3. What is the difference between a hardware-oriented and software-oriented Storage Resource Management approach?

From a basic economic standpoint, if an enterprise is trying to achieve reduced capital and operational costs for storage, it should ensure that those benefits are also in the best interest of their vendor. Many of the hardware companies offer storage management tools that are focused more on the tactical day to day management of storage instead of the strategically focused goal of reducing the amount of storage that their customers purchase. This is because hardware vendors are in business to sell customers more storage. More often than not, the objective of the hardware vendor is to bundle a storage management tool that appears to be “good enough” with a frame purchase. Unfortunately, these tools do not enable IT to deliver storage services to the businesses that are measurable, accountable and tightly integrated with business objectives. Neither do they assist IT in making more efficient utilization of storage or reducing the amount of storage that needs to be procured in the future. Since the customer has to deal with different point tools for different hardware, it also increases their total cost of management.

Comprehensive SRM tools such as CommandCentral, on the other hand, enable a strategic focus by supporting the company’s broad range of devices (not just a particular make or model), applications and business processes while providing accountability for both IT services and business unit consumption. The days of a pure homogeneous environment are gone for most companies. From varying requirements among business units to acquisitions, most global enterprises have complex heterogeneous server and storage infrastructures equipped with a broad range of storage platforms and architectures such as direct attached, NAS and SAN storage devices. As a result, they are constantly looking for the best way to report against their heterogeneous IT environments. Comprehensive SRM solutions allows them to eliminate the manual process of aggregating data from disparate point products to understand how storage, backup and recovery and server resources are being utilized by applications, lines of business, geographies and any customized business view required by the user. At the same time, they report against service levels for various applications and business processes, and lower their total cost of management.

4. How does SRM help in streamlining virtualization solutions deployed by an enterprise?

Virtualization introduces more complexity for storage management, by introducing another layer within the storage environment. SRM tools such as CommandCentral from Symantec, helps master this complexity, by providing visibility and mapping capabilities within virtual server and storage environments. On the server front, CommandCentral enables the same level of visibility within VMware virtual servers that it does for physical servers -- mapping them to disk arrays, and reporting on their disk allocations and usage. On storage virtualization, it can discover and decompose virtual LUNs to raw disk, and reports on raw and provisioned storage and used capacity.


5. How does CommandCentral enable enterprises to optimize their storage strategy?

SRM deployment is an evolutionary process with various stages of management maturity. CommandCentral has a unique deployment methodology that focuses on measurable value at each stage, as explained below:

1. End to end visibility

It all starts with enterprises getting end to end visibility into their storage environment. CommandCentral offers discovery, visualization, and reporting capabilities so organizations can progress from having no visibility to enjoying a full supply chain view.

It is critical to understand the paths from applications to physical storage to ensure that applications are delivering the appropriate performance and availability levels. Organizations must have a view into the data path in order to understand how applications are spread across physical disk resources and give storage administrators the ability to identify bottlenecks or points of failure.

The most complete storage view is an end-to-end one that provides mapping from the array to the host and presents insight into array-level events that may impact applications. Such dynamic mapping not only is critical to identify incorrect storage configurations that might result in orphaned storage but it also helps ensure the performance of the data path while revealing unclaimed, unused, and underutilized capacity for storage reclamation.

2. Managing storage capacity

One of the most cost-effective benefits of storage resource management is the ability to reclaim lost or wasted storage and forecast current and future storage capacity requirements. To that end, IT must have a way to accurately track the availability and usage of existing resources. Furthermore, IT should consider the difference between allocated storage and utilized storage – CommandCentral provides this visibility. It reports on total online capacity, providing metrics to determine available resources and storage burn rates, forecast capacity planning and budgeting, and prevent unnecessary storage purchases that might lead to reduced storage utilization levels.

An effective strategy can allow an organization to increase capacity utilization anywhere from 20 to 50 percent, resulting in significant capital cost savings. Additionally, storage tiering has emerged as a tool to help an organization make informed decisions about application utilization and storage reporting in order to maximize hardware assets. Until recently, IT has simply added disk space and replicated data as needed. However, as volumes have increased added disk space has become a much more expensive solution. Information that needs to be highly available can be assigned to fast, expensive storage, while other information can be stored on slower media or even archived.

3. Improve Storage operations

Because storage networks are complex, it is critical to monitor changes across all of the elements of the data path, reaching even the remote corners of the SAN, to ensure storage availability for key applications. CommandCentral can recognize, analyze and track changes in everything from arrays to switches, host bus adapters (HBAs), hosts, applications, files, logical unit numbers (LUNs), and more. It enforces policy based compliance with standard configurations – end users can create company specific standard configurations matched to business SLAs.

CommandCentral has the industry’s most extensive knowledgebase of thousands of vulnerabilities and critical issues—nearly anything that may prevent a data center from recovering from an outage. This extensive knowledgebase enables customers to proactively identify availability risks in their environment. The knowledgebase is continuously and automatically updated, to ensure that HA/DR plans will be successful and IT organizations will be protected from the latest HA/DR issues as they are identified. For any identified risks, CommandCentral automates the remediation process by providing resolution guides that help fix the problem before performing much needed DR tests, saving time and other resources.


4. Align with business

Once an enterprise has built a solid foundation, it can enable business level reporting, displaying information on capacity, usage, costs and service levels for storage organized by geographies, business units or any other grouping the organization cares about. By implementing chargeback, enterprises can also build more transparency into how much storage is costing each line of business. CommandCentral also builds more transparency on SLA across all functions in the business by reporting and measuring performance against SLAs.