New From Big Blue: Stitching Storage Systems -

New From Big Blue: Stitching Storage Systems

In an effort to help heterogeneous storage systems interoperate, IBM Tuesday unveiled the latest in its e-business on-demand strategy, storage management software that automates and centralizes disparate infrastructure resources.

The IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center is designed to improve management of multiple storage systems by using software to stitch a cluster of storage systems together. The product suite is designed to help companies consolidate storage operations with little human intervention and without having to take the whole network down.

Jeff Barnett, manager of market strategy, IBM storage software, says the suite uses the Storage Management Interface Specification (SMI-S) to help businesses add interoperability between storage hardware and software in their data centers.

Because the suite configures and maintains all the storage servers in the cluster at once, it reduces time spent managing the system, according to IBM.

"The majority of customers literally walk around with spreadsheets of configurations — how much storage is allocated and where," Barnett explains. "There is a whole bunch of info they need to have a grip on with multiple disparate systems, but using the IBM Productivity Center, with Tivoli Storage Resource Manager and Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager, the storage manages itself."

These automated management facets are rendered visible by a dashboard of analytics to boost the use of storage resources, Barnett says.

Such functionality is a cornerstone of on-demand or utility computing environments, where automation and always-on availability are used to cut costs associated with IT staff and to save money from transactions lost during downtime, respectively. IBM's autonomic functionalities, one of the first ingredients of IBM's on-demand shift, also come to bear here, .

The TotalStorage Productivity Center is another indication of how IBM is spreading its on-demand computing message, in which vendors enable IT staffs to efficiently increase or decrease computing resources in their networks on an as-needed basis, across its vertical markets and brands.

Big Blue competes with HP , Sun Microsystems , VERITAS Software , and other large companies in the utility computing sector.

The software will serve as the glue to tie IBM's TotalStorage Open Software line together, blending the Armonk, N.Y.-based company's storage management and automation perks of its Tivoli line with the storage virtualization features of the IBM TotalStorage Virtualization family, according to Barnett.

For example, Productivity Center works with SAN File System (formerly known as Storage Tank) and SAN Volume Controller for file and block-level storage.

But the suite also employs management products from IBM's Tivoli lines to centralize management of multiple storage hardware systems and to provide heterogeneous SAN management and autonomic error detection, as well as storage resource management for providing a window view into the environment's performance requirements.

IBM will roll out the TotalStorage Productivity Center in May.

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