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Over the years, storage resource management (SRM) has often been referred to as "top-to-bottom integration," as it has grown to not only include its ability to monitor and report on storage, but to manage the system itself, its applications, storage devices, and the efficient backup and recovery of data. In a nutshell, SRM has come a long way.
However, when it comes to SRM, the storage industry seems to be way ahead of storage customers -- while it is looking toward utility-class products, customers are getting a headache from competency deficiency, which is causing a huge gap between the two parties. So, how are we going to close this gap?
Robert Infantino, Astrum's founder and executive vice president of business development, believes that industry leaders can close this gap by providing a solution approach that helps customers implement all the features of the SRM applications. "Many SRM vendors have historically just mailed the CD to customers and wished them good luck," Infantino said. "With the wide range of features available in an enterprise-class SRM application, it's crucial that customers have expert assistance to implement this powerful functionality in a way that fits their existing storage management processes," he continued.
The million-dollar question: What is SRM, anyway?
Gartner Group defines SRM as "those products that provide data collection and automation agents to consolidate and operate on information from multiple platforms supporting storage management tools on multiple OS storage, and SAN devices." However, there have been many other definitions of SRM and this may be adding to the SRM headaches being experienced by customers.
According to Phil Treide, vice president of storage marketing for Computer Associates, Gartner's SRM definition is close to how his company defines the SRM solution area. He believes that some of the confusion may lie with the usage of the word "automation," which is a word that is being abstracted to a certain degree. "The essence of SRM solutions are as the provider of knowledge that provide storage administrators with the proper information, both real-time and historical, on storage assets and accompanying parameters [capacity usage, availability, allocation, application use of storage, and performance metrics] that exist within the storage landscape," he continued.
Karen Dutch, vice president of marketing at InterSan, believes that there is no single product today that provides the complete range of capabilities in Gartner's SRM definition. "This is why Gartner still breaks down SRM into three subsegments: provisioning, SAN management, and SRM," she says. However, Dutch believes that as the products mature, the lines between these subsegments will blur and disappear. "At that point, she says, there will be true enterprise class SRM products providing the full range of capabilities."
In a recent survey of conducted by Glasshouse Technologies concerning SRM, it was found that about 60 percent of the storage industry professionals surveyed never even heard of SRM? Maybe, this is yet another factor adding to the SRM headache.
Treide says that the lack of SRM awareness among users can be attributed to various factors, including:
- Class of products in the early adoption phase of the technology life cycle
- Confusion among end users about SR due to vendor's wild claims and inconsistent industry definitions and buzzwords
- End user's focus is still inward towards other operational areas such as backup/recovery
"Better education and astute awareness of SRM and what it stands for can be clearly communicated across the storage industry through educational means -- SNIA task force or committees, accurate and well-defined articles on SRM and its capabilities, etc.," he says. "The more there are discussions of SRM in the open among all parties concerned, the better the quality of information will become," he added.