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The Next as-a-Service: SRM – Forbes Blog by John Webster

I have been hearing recently that Digital Transformation is not about moving applications to the cloud, but rather moving enterprise IT from an internal Capex-oriented practice to a consumer of IT, self-service Opex model. IT vendors, taking their cue from their enterprise customers, are following suit with pay-as-you go acquisition alternatives. Even big-ticket hardware vendors who would normally sell based on a negotiated price are now offering their boxes on an as-a-service basis. It’s only natural then that storage resource management (SRM) software would get caught-up in the growing shift to the Opex budget.

The trend started when some forward-looking storage vendors began offering their device management software as a service delivered from the cloud. Two examples:

Nimble Storage’s[1] InfoSight—InfoSight collects sensor data from their customers’ arrays and applies predictive analytics to resolve issues before they occur. Real time analytics software (VoltDB) runs in the cloud. Both Nimble and their customers can leverage InfoSight to respond immediately to issues relating to array performance and availability, identify future capacity needs and maintain performance levels over time.

Tegile Systems’ IntelliCare Cloud Analytics—an analytics-based management tool that monitors capacity usage, configurations, system health and performance using sensory data gathered from Tegile arrays. Proactive alerts warn of impending component failures and out-of-capacity conditions. IntelliCare runs without server-based agents or additional infrastructure. A web portal is accessible to any administrator with the proper credentials.

Nimble, Tegile and others offering cloud-based analytics tools will likely expand on the management capabilities they now offer as a service. But so far, these services are confined to their arrays. The next logical step is a cloud-based analytics application, delivered as a service, that receives telemetry data from multiple vendor’s storage systems and features real-time dashboards along with reports. Again, analytics could be used to predict potential failures, out of space conditions, or suggest way to optimize performance—but across multiple vendors’ arrays within a datacenter. Dashboards cloud give a real-time view of the current state of all storage systems “seen” from the cloud and give IT administrators the ability drill-down for details and problem isolation. IBM has taken their first step in this direction.

IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights now allows enterprise storage administrators to monitor and manage Dell EMC storage systems in addition to analytics-based monitoring and managing IBM storage. Pay-as-you-go services include capacity planning, performance monitoring, provisioning and reporting. Supported storage systems include Dell EMC VMAX and VNX using Dell EMC SMI-S providers as well as most IBM storage systems and third party systems attached to IBM’s storage virtualization platforms such as Storwize and Spectrum Virtualize.

In spite of the fact that managing growing volumes of data continues to bedevil IT administrators, the traditional Storage Resource Management (SRM) software suites, for years targeted at this and other storage-related pain points, have never really taken-off. While many of them offer broad-ranging and sophisticated capabilities, they are complex to the point of requiring administrators to be trained in the use of the SRM suite as well as regular interaction to maintain currency with the environment. SRM suites are now often relegated to trained storage administrators who are becoming harder to find.

The simplicity and visibility provided through the new as-a-service dashboards are such that they can be used by a much broader range of IT management staff that now includes cloud administrators. But they retain the sophistication, now augmented by predictive analytics, required by traditional storage administrators.

SRM is once again a growth opportunity. We can expect to see more Opex-driven, SRM-as-a-service offerings from startups as well as established vendors. They will expand SRM’s capabilities in the direction of analytics and automation in addition to the diversity of disparate storage systems they manage.

[1] HPE has announced its intent to acquire Nimble Storage.