Onaro Tames Unwieldy SANs

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Onaro has unveiled software that the company says can predict and prevent problems in storage area networks (SANs) before they occur.

The Boston-based startup, which announced a $7.75 million funding round in April, claims that 80% of SAN availability problems and brownouts result from SAN changes, making change management “by far the greatest challenge in building and maintaining increasingly complex SANs.”

Onaro says its SANscreen predictive change management software solves the complexity problems that keep companies from changing and growing SANs quickly and accurately. SANscreen uses simulation and root-cause analysis to monitor millions of configuration states.

After implementing SANscreen, State Street Global Advisors was able to free up 40% of its SAN administrators from basic operations to focus on the company’s “fluid computing” initiative aimed at maximizing the business potential of its IT resources, says principal Robert Shinn.

“They were hired to do this stuff, but they wound up answering service calls,” Shinn told Enterprise Storage Forum. “People expect it to be like that, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Gartner Storage Vice President Ray Paquet calls the ability to conduct root-cause analysis the “IT Holy Grail.”

Data Mobility Group founder and senior analyst John Webster agrees that SANscreen makes SANs easier to manage, but he adds that the product requires some expertise. “It doesn’t turn a novice into an expert overnight,” he tells ESF.

“They’ve gotten the positive attention of some very large users,” Webster says. “However, SANscreen isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s serious, comprehensive stuff. And it proves the adage, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure.'”

And measuring the effect of changes on a SAN is what Onaro is all about.

Onaro CEO Shai Scharf says SANscreen helps users understand the myriad of access paths, relationships and interdependencies within a SAN, guarding against downtime and security breaches. SANscreen also records all change events, for full audit capability and regulatory compliance.

“Manual methods and existing applications fail to comprehend and manage the millions of access paths found in today’s storage networks,” Scharf says.

Scharf says SANscreen is easy to install, has no agents and requires no changes, so users get benefits quickly and without disruption or risk. The product starts by collecting and analyzing data and then presenting a map of the SAN, its vulnerabilities and problems. After the baseline is set and policies applied, SANscreen continuously monitors and validates changes, giving users the option of going back to a point in time, if necessary.

“You are in complete control all the way,” Scharf boasts.

Scharf says Onaro’s founders — who come from an Israeli intelligence background — spent more than a year talking to customers and understanding the problems SANs pose “before hiring anyone or writing a line of code.”

“The key is to understand the logical part, how data is connected,” he says.

Onaro plans partnerships with leading SAN vendors. SANscreen isn’t competitive with other products, Scharf claims. By making SAN customers more confident, vendors can sell more gear, he says.

Customers can get started with SANscreen for under $30,000, Scharf says. Onaro plans future releases addressing backup, NAS and iSCSI, among other applications.

Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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