The SAN Management Dilemma Page 3
No 'Single Pane of Glass' Solution in Sight
The current effort by the storage industry to define a common standard for SAN management will facilitate creation of interoperable management frameworks, but it will not instantly deliver the "single pane of glass" management application that masters all aspects of SAN management. Customers will still have to operate multiple instances of SAN management, each focusing on specific functions. Backup, for example, is today commonly executed via standalone applications that do not integrate directly into SAN transport management frameworks. Multiple applications means multiple administrators, multiple management workstations, separate training and expertise, separate acquisition and support costs, and often separate management access methods to configure and monitor the SAN. Common management standards alone will not eliminate this requirement, but they are an evolutionary step towards SAN management integration.
In addition, streamlining SAN management is desirable from the standpoint of minimizing the impact of management on the SAN infrastructure itself. In a complex SAN, for example, the storage disk arrays, tape subsystems, SAN switches, and host bus adapters may be polled by multiple management applications simultaneously, as each attempts to solicit only those bits of information required for narrowly defined management tasks. This imposes considerable overhead on both the end devices and the storage network.
This situation is not helped by the fact that individual vendors, in their haste to add value to their product offerings, are extending the reach of their own management applications outside the boundaries of what is required for the immediate configuration and monitoring of their equipment. A SAN switch vendor, for example, may provide utilities for switch configuration, but also include a tool that draws a complete map of the SAN and its attached devices. Likewise, a storage array vendor may provide useful utilities for management of RAID and LUNs, but also lay claim to other aspects of SAN management as well.
This duplicates the work of other management applications and often results in excessive polling of storage resources without providing significant customer benefit. Although massive amounts of raw management data points may be retrieved, there is no correlation of this data into a comprehensive view of the SAN and its diverse functions. For the customer, maintaining five or six management applications to oversee a single SAN is an exasperating experience.