MonoSphere Makes Storage Work Harder

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MonoSphere has enhanced its Storage Horizon analytics tool so it can now measure storage utilization in VMware and Oracle database environments and support EMC Celerra and IBM DS and ESS arrays.

The year-old storage resource management (SRM) offering now also boasts an automated chargeback feature that gives administrators a clear view of storage use by clients. The new enhancements provide greater visibility and stronger control over sprawling storage farms, according to the vendor.

Even though storage costs are dropping, SRM is vital to make sure storage doesn’t go to waste, say industry experts. After all, no storage is cheap if it’s being underutilized or left untouched in dark corners.

While SRM tools aren’t new, formal adoption hasn’t been fast and quick for several reasons, according to Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group.

“Research last fall indicates that while 37 percent of enterprises have some sort of SRM tool, the majority do not,” he said. One reason is that many tools are bulky with features and require lots of expertise. Another is that storage administrators tend to equate allocation and utilization when it comes to storage deployment.

“Storage teams allocate resources and associate that allocation as utilization, whether it’s actually used or not,” Laliberte explained. This leads to what he calls a “waterfall” effect as storage environments continue to grow, along with underutilization.

What many enterprises don’t realize is that SRM tools can push actual storage utilization from 30 percent to 60 percent, said the analyst.

MonoSphere is one of the newest players in an SRM market sector that already lists products from the likes of HP (NYSE: HPQ), IBM (NYSE: IBM), EMC (NYSE: EMC) and NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP). Most SRM tools provide insight about space usage and activity information. Heftier packages also provide data on performance and storage activity profiles.

“Tools that provide insight into storage space or capacity, as well as performance and activity usage, are important to maximize storage resources, including data footprint reduction, thin provisioning, tiered storage, space-saving snapshots, and so forth,” said Greg Schultz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO.

According to Laliberte, research indicates that 40 percent of enterprises are considering an SRM solution this year. One reason is that data loads are growing at an annual rate of 60 percent, fueling storage growth. An EMC-sponsored digital universe study reports that 988 billion gigabytes of digital information will be created in 2010.

MonoSphere said most enterprises have a 30 percent average storage utilization rate, and that 15 to 40 percent of storage stacks are dark — meaning that the storage is not being used at all.

“The goal is to make life easier for the storage team and use the resources wisely,” said Frank Kettenstock, MonoSphere’s VP of marketing. “Research estimates that $25 billion is being spent each year on hardware and that only 30 percent has data written to it,” he added.

New storage technologies, such as virtualization, are only making management and utilization harder to control. That’s why MonoSphere added support for VMware, said Kettenstock.

The functionality helps storage teams understand what specific devices, such as VMware file systems and VMware virtual disks, are storing and how much data is on each device.

The new automated chargeback analysis lets IT automatically analyze storage asset use by business unit, department, application and hardware. Administrators can analyze and set up pre-configured reports that track unused and under-utilized assets by volume group, free pool report and dark storage breakdown.

Given increasing database growth, the tool now also supports Oracle environments. Earlier versions gave MS SQL and Sybase databases analytical capabilities in addition to MS Exchange. The Oracle “drill down” provides details and forecasts of table spaces and data files. In MS SQL and Sybase databases, drill-down provides data on multiple databases, and with Exchange, users can drill down and access details of public folder rollups and mailbox rollups.

Such comprehensive analytics, according to analysts, can help enterprise effectively manage growing storage environments.

“This SRM technology is not a magic elixir for storage, but typically the savings in the first year justifies the cost of a tool,” said Laliberte. “Getting better data visibility allows for greater efficiencies going forward.” After all, he added, some enterprises could save a year’s storage budget if good utilization was in place.

Article courtesy of

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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