By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2004-06-14 Print this article Print

AppIQ Inc.s StorageAuthority Suite 3.1 is a powerful storage manager that lets midsize and large organizations divvy up tasks among IT staff.

StorageAuthority Suite 3.1, which began shipping last month priced at $60,000, allows administrators with limited SAN (storage area network) expertise to handle day-to-day storage allocation and management tasks.

StorageAuthority Suite 3.0 was an eWEEK Excellence Award winner in the Enterprise Storage category. Click here to see the other winners and finalists.
Using such standards as CIM (Common Information Model) and SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification), StorageAuthority Suite communicates with storage systems and networking devices.

In tests, although StorageAuthority Suite 3.1 could not manage functionality such as snapshots and mirroring on storage systems, nor provide ISL (Inter-Switch Link) management for Fibre Channel switches, it did cover more than enough of the basics to be useful.

Using the new rules-based Path Provisioning capability, we easily created usable storage LUNs (logical unit numbers) from idle storage space sitting on a Hitachi Data Systems Thunder 9570V storage system. The LUNs could then be presented to Windows and Solaris servers on our test SAN.

The Path Provisioning feature is impressive because it is easy to use and takes care of basic storage networking tasks to ensure that the servers have clear paths to their storage systems. The intelligence built into Path Provisioning can also warn IT managers when a physical link between a storage system and a server does not exist.

The StorageAuthority suites built-in SRM (storage resource management) capabilities allowed us to analyze the data on our test storage systems and servers. In Version 3.1, AppIQ has added file-level SRM for Solaris-based systems. (Previous editions SRM capabilities were limited to Windows.)

StorageAuthority Suites management application, which includes an Oracle Corp. Oracle database for storing management information, runs only on Windows-based systems. The next revision will be able to run on Solaris servers, company officials said. The management interface is Web-based, so any Java-based browser can manage StorageAuthority Suite.

StorageAuthority Suite performs all management and discovery tasks over IP. IT managers must install agents on managed servers, storage systems and switches, so plan on extensive testing before beginning a full rollout.

StorageAuthority Suite works only with disk-based storage systems and does not provide management for tapes or optical libraries. (These devices show up as unknown devices during the discovery phase.)

Using the management interface, we could easily navigate our SAN topology and even see where specific volumes were stored on the test SAN.

StorageAuthority Suite has an interesting built-in chargeback feature that allows IT managers to quantify (in dollars) how groups are using SAN storage resources.

Administrative granularity is built into StorageAuthority Suite as well, allowing IT managers to give access rights to specific groups. Although this feature is useful, the administrative granularity is currently done on the device level. Once someone has rights to a device, he or she can change the configuration of the device and potentially affect other groups sharing that storage device.

In future revisions, the administrative granularity will be set at a LUN level, so IT managers with rights can affect only the portion of a storage system that holds their data.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at henry_ baltazar@ziffdavis.com.

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