In addition to the new modules, AppIQ StorageAuthority Suite 4.0 includes a couple of enhancements that make management more efficient. Using Version 4.0, IT managers can scan a particular group of devices for new information, instead of searching the entire SAN. Past releases required a scan of the entire SAN to find new resources and configuration changes. This could be a long and tedious process for IT managers with large SANs. AppIQs traditionally robust storage provisioning and SRM capabilities continue to be strengths in this update. StorageAuthority Suite 4.0s storage provisioning capabilities allowed us to quickly find available storage resources and connect them to our servers, using a simple workflow management interface .AppIQs Application Path Management function, which shows how application servers are connected to a SAN, came in very handy in tests. Using this feature, we could easily and quickly assess the topology of a SAN and find common mistakes. For example, we could quickly see if two server HBAs (host bus adapters) were plugged into the same switch, making that switch a potential single point of failure. The Application Path Management feature can also gauge applications to find out what data volumes would be affected if a particular switch, storage unit or HBA were to fail. For more in-depth management of applications, AppIQ also offers application monitoring modules for Sybase Inc., Oracle Corp., and Microsoft Corp. Exchange and SQL Server databases. Monitoring modules are also available for file servers. Using these modules, IT managers can obtain capacity management and disk performance information on the various databases and data repositories used by an application. Centralizing application and storage performance into a single platform enables IT managers to more easily determine if the source of a performance bottleneck is related to storage, the network or the server (CPU or RAM). AppIQ StorageAuthority Suite currently does not have a tool for change management, unlike competing storage management suites such as EMCs ControlCenter. Tools such as EMCs SAN Advisor allow IT managers to keep track of changes made in a SAN, which is extremely important not only for documentation purposes but also for SAN troubleshooting and maintenance. AppIQ officials said they are investigating the development of this type of tool. AppIQ StorageAuthority Suite also lacks the ability to manage iSCSI devices. This weakness is hardly damning, though, considering that there are currently no standards in place for managing iSCSI targets. Each iSCSI device has its own management interface, and no vendor really has this functionality to date. iSCSI storage is still a small market when compared with NAS and SAN installations, but its growing rapidly, and the absence of centralized management tools will be a pain point for IT managers in coming years. iSCSI support will be available sometime next year, according to AppIQ officials. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.
Behind the scenes, the suite takes care of zoning, LUN (logical unit number) masking and volume creationeffectively allowing system administrators who arent SAN experts to provision storage on their own.