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Current Shortcomings in Storage Portals
Such portals, though, are not yet the finished article. There is still much ground to cover before we achieve true end-to-end ESA -- where administrators monitor and manage the entire scope of the storage environment -- including laptops, workstations, servers, switches and arrays -- from one screen, and all routine tasks are automated.
"Instead of carrying out as many as 15 manual steps to add new storage to a SAN environment, policy-driven intelligence would automatically discover new storage capacity, configure it appropriately, and move data accordingly," says Triede.
The key elements missing, then (though coming very soon, according to CA and other vendors), are:
Dynamic provisioning: The ability to automatically discover new storage capacity, configure it, and take care of moving the data. Thus, storage management applications can conduct error-free, timely, and automatic processing of storage needs without the administrator having to involve him or herself in the myriad details such as where the capacity is physically located or its low-level configuration.
Automated storage best practices: Defining storage best practices allows an administrator to map out the key processes and procedures, and incorporate them into a workflow engine that consolidates sequences of tasks such as backup and restore so that their many steps can be automated. Administrators can then focus on true storage management and troubleshooting.
Topology-guided management: Constant change is the order of the day in the land of storage. Of course, this makes it difficult for storage operators to keep current on all the latest updated needed to applications, processes, systems, and components that correspond to each change. Topology-guided management automatically modifies all aspects of the environment. This separates out the business of storage from the underlying technology. Thus, backup and recovery operations will be able to determine the best path, route, and procedures to accomplish the tasks based on current up-to-date storage topologies.
According to storage vendors, such additions to the storage administrator's arsenal are less than a year away. When that day comes, new storage devices, platforms, and systems will be automatically discovered, allocated against enterprise-wide policies, provisioned based on best practices, and deployed where most needed. It will soon be possible to balance data across storage volumes, perform backup/recovery tasks, and optimize storage paths according to bandwidth availability and storage loads without administrator involvement.
ESA's top-down approach to storage management is no pipe dream either. While it represents an evolution of storage management to a higher level, it is really only catching up to what is now regarded as the norm in systems and network management -- where achieving a unified view across the enterprise, once a newsworthy subject, is now regarded as the norm.
This story originally appeared on Datamation.