Storage resource management ignored says study

Cobbled-together homegrown tools are no substitute for the real thing, a Forrester analyst says

Many enterprise customers are dragging their feet on adopting and implementing storage-resource management (SRM) offerings, leaving their IT environments in danger of data overruns, capacity-planning woes and poor storage strategy execution, according to a study by Forrester Research.

The study looks at the SRM landscape in terms of available tools, underlying complexity and multiple approaches to functionality, and includes feedback from 35 SRM-related providers, including EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, CA, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Network Appliance, CommVault, MonoSphere, Onaro, TeraCloud, Novus Consulting and Tek-Tools.

According to Forrester, storage vendors brandishing SRM tools and functionality have yet to properly educate or convince companies of the value SRM can bring to IT infrastructure and storage operations. Exacerbating the problem, homegrown tools, which are being “cobbled together” piecemeal to substitute for SRM’s monitoring, reporting and capacity management abilities, are leaving many organisations unable to discern how many terabytes of raw storage they’re running, says Andrew Reichman, a Forrester analyst.

“Customers still don’t seem to see the value of [SRM],” he says. “I think they’re intimidated by the complexity and expense of most tools. To me, [organisations] don’t have table stakes of ‘where are we’, and I think that’s pretty consistent across most companies that are customers of any of these [SRM] tools.”

Without SRM in place — and with no ability to reclaim large volumes of wasted space — capacity management can be an arduous task. For example, storage allocation can be easily misaligned, affecting resource utilisation. Strained capacity can lead storage and IT administrators into bad decision-making and prompt them to reactively buy storage at a higher-than-normal price.

According to Reichman, most of the SRM tools studied by Forrester are seen by users as not being “actionable” enough and only show where storage problems exist. In fact, the study concludes that many of the SRM tools offered by larger vendors require a full-time administrator to keep SRM groomed, accurate and updated — a tough proposition for storage environments running a tight productivity and budgetary ship, he says.

As far as the vendors studied are concerned, Forrester pointed to a number of areas they must address to alleviate user concerns and foster adoption. That list includes streamlining the agent deployment process to pinpoint which servers are agentless; automated pushing out of agents; bolstering backup integration; making out-of-the-box capacity planning easier; adding storage virtualisation functionality to help alleviate complex storage configurations; and offering professional services.

As a result of exploding data growth, regulatory and compliance mandates and growing heterogeneity within datacentres and storage environments, Reichman says customers can ill afford to overlook the importance of SRM in driving business growth. “I hear the argument [by users] that maybe we don’t need SRM ... It seems that most companies have this perception they can put it off,” he says. “But with the pace of data growth out there, what they’re currently using isn’t going to work and [will] only become more cumbersome.

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