Relatively new in the storage world is a cloud-based application (Software as a Service or SaaS) that receives telemetry data from storage systems providing real-time dashboards along with reports and analytics. The analytics can predict potential failures, out of space conditions, or suggest optimization for where data should be placed. The dashboards give a real-time view of the current state of storage systems and drill-downs for details and problem isolation. Reports include capacity and performance usage over time for planning purposes.
Also new with the SaaS monitoring and reporting for storage is the support for more than a single vendor’s storage. An example is IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights supporting Dell EMC storage systems in addition to IBM storage.
Actually making use of the information provided by the SaaS monitoring and reporting is really the important development. The simplicity and visibility provided through the dashboard are such that management and IT generalists can easily make use of the information. Administrators specializing in storage can drill down to detail levels without having to go to individual element management software. Prior to a SaaS solution to process telemetry data, the options available were to use Storage Resource Management software or individual element managers. Both solutions have proven to have characteristics that inhibited their use.
Historically, Storage Resource Management has been delivered with software that has gamely attempted to cover the spectrum of storage elements and function in an enterprise environment. The broad capabilities being addressed make the solutions complex and creates another administrative burden in installing and updating the software. The complexity has meant that usage is most effective when the administrator is trained in use of that specific software and does it regularly, not only for retaining expertise but most of the software solutions require regular interaction to maintain currency with the environment. These factors relegated the use for storage resource management software to trained storage administrators. As administrator workloads increased and fewer were available, usage of the software diminished. Describing it as “shelfware” may be harsh but not far from the fact in some cases.
Using individual storage system element managers is the other solution commonly used. This requires detailed knowledge of the storage system and certainly some are much easier to use than others. The problem is that use is normally limited to a storage administrator responsible for that system, the view presented is from the storage system only, and the element manager is only for that vendor and type of system.
The new SaaS solution addresses the shortcomings by moving to an increasingly familiar method of pointing to a web site and getting the information instantly. Either default or customized dashboards allow non-specialists to view status of the systems that store and protect their information. It is the simplicity that will change behavior.
Expanding beyond a single vendor’s storage product is necessary to increase use of the new management and reporting tool. This will lead to greater usage by providing a wider view across the storage environment.
For more information on IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights: