Storage Tools Convergence

Fujitsu Softek, leveraging recent acquisitions and a lack of legacy baggage, has an intriguing plan for interconnecting storage components, eWEEK Labs finds.

Storage consolidation has been an important goal for IT managers during the last few years. Although enormous strides have been made on the hardware side of the house in terms of interoperability, the software components of storage management (virtualization/provisioning, SRM and so on) have been distinct entities until now.

eWeek Labs recently spent some time with Fujitsu Software Technology Corp., also known as Fujitsu Softek, to get a feel for the level of integration among storage management tools and to discover what advances to expect.

Storage management software consolidation is important because it will let IT managers use a single interface for most day-to-day duties. Currently, its not out of the ordinary to have nearly a dozen tools.

In this Tech Analysis, eWeek Labs looks at consolidation within a specific vendors product line. We focus this analysis on such a microcosm because interoperability among the software programs of multiple vendors will be far more difficult to achieve and is further out on the horizon.

Our general impression is that storage management consolidation is still not as strong as it should be—in fact, it seems like many storage tools (even from other vendors lines) are not linked at all with other tools in a product line. One of the first large-scale demonstrations of interoperable storage components, shown last month at Storage Networking World, in Orlando, Fla., shows IT managers will see major improvements over the next year.

Its difficult to estimate the cost savings related to consolidating storage management tools. Lowering the number of interfaces IT managers need to learn should make it easier to train people to manage the SAN (storage area network). Automation should also allow IT managers to get by with fewer technicians, although it will be a while before these systems run efficiently without human intervention.

Fujitsu Softek, established in April 2001, is a relatively new player in the storage market and wasnt part of the Storage Networking World demo. However, its approach to interconnecting storage components is intriguing.

In at least a couple of important areas, Fujitsu Softeks status as a newcomer is an advantage. First, the company isnt lugging around the big burden of legacy support. Second, its recent arrival to market means that it didnt have to reinvent the wheel to get the storage functionality it needed.

To break into the provisioning/ virtualization space, Fujitsu Softek initially had an OEM agreement with DataCore Software Corp. for its SANSymphony product. Fujitsu Softek subsequently acquired the SANSymphony code and tailored the SANSymphony interface to make it easier to navigate. In the near future (probably in a few months), it will be locked in with other Fujitsu Softek products.

To take care of device management, Fujitsu Softek acquired Vixel Corp.s SAN management software business, which yielded an impressive product called SAN InSite (and which Fujitsu Softek renamed SANView).

In tests, eWeek Labs examined the convergence capabilities of Fujitsu Softeks Softek Storage Manager, SANView and virtualization solutions.