InterSAN Sharpens SRM Tool

Upgrade will give enterprises automation and monitoring of SAN policies.

An upgrade to InterSAN Inc.s storage management software, launching this week, will give enterprises automation and monitoring of SAN policies, officials said Friday.

Pathline 2.5 exists in the subset known as storage resource management, or SRM. Such products aim to help users save time and money by applying custom rules and an application-centric focus to storage networks.

"Were adding the ability to do resource reservations. We would rather have our product adapt to the way enterprises do their business than have them have to adapt their process to our products," said Chris Melville, InterSANs CEO and president, in Scotts Valley, Calif.

In past versions, Pathline could automatically provision storage, but not actually reserve it, he explained. Similarly, the software can also now monitor capacity and policies, versus just allocating and executing them before, he said. Another new feature is automated path reconfiguration, which rebuilds the policy links between servers, software and storage after reboots, he said.

Distinguishing InterSAN from similar startups is its customer base. InterSAN has 10 customers, which manage an average of 30TB with Pathline, and "we have a dozen more evaluations in progress right now, we have a pipeline thats a good 60 deep," Melville said. Most of that came through InterSANs resale deal with Hitachi Data Systems, he said.

HDS is the Santa Clara, Calif., enterprise storage division of Tokyos Hitachi Ltd. A deal for Pathline to support IBMs Enterprise Storage System (Shark) product is also underway, Melville and IBM officials said.

"Weve got an environment right now that spans three major data centers and several regional sites, 200-300 terabytes," running EMC Corp.s Symmetrix series and IBMs Shark, said Ken Ayotte, systems architect at FMR Corp., known for its Fidelity brand of financial services. FMR is an InterSAN investor, he disclosed, but "Thats certainly not why we chose them. InterSAN simply won on the technical merits," compared to other software vendors and to EMC Corp.s and IBMs own products, Ayotte said, in Boston.

Prior to InterSAN, FMR had a custom-built provisioning tool. "We used that for about a year and a half. It was basically to get us out of the mode of all the manual steps. When the SAN grows to a certain size, its something everybody hits," Ayotte said. Now, "One of the big things were looking for from them is to keep us … out of the business of having to deal with the upgrades," he said.

Pathline pricing starts at $20,000 for four terabytes of data managed, while a 35TB system would cost about $200,000, Melville said. Looking forward, "The next major area that you will see needing to be addressed is one of replication management, how do I manage all the copies that I have floating around out there," he said. Similar snapshot management features exist from vendors of backup software, he noted, but InterSANs version will be more agnostic, he asserted.

Industry-wide, SRM has faced growing pains. Products arent selling well, from both startups and large companies, industry analysts have said. BMC Corp. recently stopped its SRM development and sales, laid off much of the Patrol Storage Manager staff, and made plans to reposition the technology for a bigger-picture IT management announcement this summer, officials of the Houston company said recently.

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