Automation a Hot Ticket

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-01-13 Print this article Print

Automation Software Will Be Hot

If there's one word that spells out a major data storage trend for 2009, it's "automation." In its simplest form, we're talking about the creative intersection of business intelligence, botlike software and data storage arrays.

Storage companies are finding ways to automate processes that used to be painstaking, tedious and expensive to handle. For example, storage tiering and change management priorities can now be dialed up from anywhere in the world on central, Web-based consoles supplied by a rapidly growing number of vendors.

Storage tiering keeps often-accessed data on a fast Tier 1 spinning or solid-state disk, by far the most power-hungry option; Tier 2 data, accessed less frequently, is kept on slower, cheaper SATA (Serial ATA) disks. Tier 3 is tape storage for data that may never see the light of day again.

An example of this is the recent spike in sales of storage appliances. A storage appliance is a plug-and-play tool which combines storage capacity control and tiering automation, and does it with a simple interface that a savvy business person can use.  No scripts or other code need to be written.

STORServer, which marketed one of the first storage appliances back in 2001, has reported an upsurge of interest from SMBs in its wares. Sun Microsystems launched its first storage appliance, Amber Road, last fall, and reported immediate sales orders.

"We developed a relationship with VMware about two years ago to work with the ESX platform, and now we've actually begun to virtualize our own appliance," Laura Buckley, CEO and COO of STORServer, told eWEEK.

"We have added new capabilities, such as email archiving, for example, into our appliance that used to be related to another physical server. We've added them into our product as additional virtual machines."

Intelligent software in the data center is doing more of the heavy-and often very intricate-lifting. Old-school manual labor, where IT staff met once or twice a month to physically print out all the application patches and security updates on spreadsheets and walk them out to production locations, is finis.

"While virtual server environments promise lower internal resource requirements, unchecked virtual server sprawl quickly can create a hornet's nest from a management perspective," Jim Grant, BMC Software's senior vice president of strategy and corporate development, told eWEEK.

"Management tools that give visibility into the virtual network will be critical."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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