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Storage area network (SAN) management

Selecting a storage area network (SAN) management tool for a customer can be an extremely challenging process. Get some basic SAN management information to help you start the evaluation process.

Storage area network (SAN) management is more involved than simply cabling servers and storage systems together....

Storage resources must be configured, allocated, tested and maintained as new devices are added and enterprise storage requirements change. Management is a vital part of SAN operation, so it's important to select tools that can minimize the time and effort needed to keep a SAN running.

Storage resource management (SRM) applications are designed to monitor and manage physical and logical SAN resources. Physical resources include storage arrays, RAID systems, tape libraries and FC switches, while logical storage features involve file systems and application-oriented storage elements (e.g. Oracle database files). It's usually best to select one tool that can provide centralized management of the entire storage infrastructure through a single console. Ideally, a centralized SRM tool should be able to detect storage resources, evaluate their capacity and configuration, and measure their performance. The SRM tool should also be able to affect changes to the configuration and support consistent policies across the various storage technologies being managed. SAN management tools are available from EMC Corp., Symantec Corp. (Veritas), McData Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and CA Inc.

In actual practice, selecting a SAN management/SRM tool can be an extremely challenging process -- usually because each tool accomplishes its suite of tasks in a unique way. Consequently, a good management tool should offer heterogeneous support, being able to accurately detect, discover and visualize a SAN across a variety of network equipment, storage systems and operating systems. The tool should provide meaningful monitoring and reporting features, including performance measurement, and that data should provide practical information that can help an administrator identify and resolve problems within the SAN.

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This was last published in November 2006

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