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Blade storage management considerations

Blade storage management is a new challenge for many businesses and the resellers hoping to tap into blade storage needs. Keep these considerations in mind as you get started.

With the advent of any new technology, such as storage blades, the question of management is always close at hand. How do you manage storage blades? Do you have to send your staff to another class? It depends.

The main differences may come with the initial storage configuration. The good news is that nearly all the storage blade vendors use standard protocols and interfaces, so more often than not, the day-to-day management of storage on blades will be the same that you would do for similar types of storage. Classes may be required if you bring in a storage interconnect technology, such as network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area networks (SAN), that is new to your or your customer's environment.

For example, the Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks SB40c storage blade looks to the operating system like storage on the processor blade because it's direct-attached storage (DAS). Initial array configuration of the storage blades use HP's browser-based Array Configuration Utility (ACU), which allows you to also add more disks to the array or completely reconfigure it, just as you would with many of HP's other storage arrays.

With SAN or NAS, blade management will depend a great deal on the storage blade vendor. For example, the Verari Systems VB5150 storage-bladed subsystem uses PolyServe's File Serving Utilities to provide a NAS-based interface. Blade-specific management would be done through the PolyServe utilities. However, day-to-day management functions like backup would be performed the same as you would for other storage.

How storage is managed within embedded solutions is entirely dependent upon the solution provider. Storage blades, such as Performance Technologies IPnexus CPC5900, comes with a development environment and uses standard IP SAN (iSCSI) and NAS (NFS and SAMBA) interfaces.

No matter what blades are being used, day-to-day operations will not need change much, however, blade configuration can vary widely from vendor to vendor.

To learn more about what is being done with storage blades or storage with respect to blade servers or storage and server virtualization, attend the Seventh Annual Server Blade Summit on Blades and Virtualization: The Perfect Marriage, May 1-3 in Anaheim, Calif. This year's program supports three tracks: IT strategy and business, IT technical implementation and vendor technical, supporting seven storage-specific sessions and five management sessions across the tracks. The ROI Planning Lab sponsored by IBM Tivoli and Avnet will show you how blade systems and virtualization can positively impact your bottom-line.

About the author: Anne Skamarock has over 20 years of technical, marketing, research, analysis and consulting experience, as an end user/administrator, vendor and industry analyst. Since 1995 she has concentrated on systems, storage, networked storage and storage management . A frequent speaker at conferences, she was also chair of Networld+Interop's Network Storage Track. Anne's expertise covers a broad range including enterprise management software, data protection, storage networking architectures, virtualization technologies and tape and disk storage systems. In addition to having written a regular column on storage for Network World, Anne is also co-author of the book Blade Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs.

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