The SAN Management Dilemma

Since the advent of SANs, customers have complained that storage area networks are difficult to manage. While SANs are unlikely to ever become self-configuring and self-administrating, industry-sponsored efforts like SNIA's Storage Management Initiative (SMI) and the integration of SAN-aware functionality into OSes should make it much easier for customers to deploy and support SANs in the near future.


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Since the advent of SANs, customers have complained that storage area networks are difficult to manage. Along with interoperability issues, the lack of comprehensive and robust SAN management has inhibited the widespread adoption of SANs by the IT market. And although progress has been made on the interoperability front, SAN management itself seems to be stuck under constant construction. The Storage Management Initiative (SMI) of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is the first industry-sponsored, multi-vendor effort to create a solid foundation for storage management across multiple transports and applications.

Leveraging the Common Information Model (CIM) framework, SMI will enable both hardware and software vendors to engineer SAN management solutions to a common standard, thus providing greater interoperability and simplifying the customer's management tasks. SMI, however, is not a panacea for all ills associated with implementing and supporting SANs. The problem with SAN management is not so much that it has yet to be mastered, but rather that the scope of SANs is too broad and complex to be contained within a single management framework.

Combining storage and networking into a SAN creates new capabilities that are far more diverse than the sum of its parts. Traditional network management, for example, focuses on data transport between source and destination. Address assignment, device configuration, bandwidth allocation, routing protocols, traffic monitoring, and historical reporting for capacity planning may be incorporated into a network management application to ensure proper data transport through a network infrastructure. Conventional storage management may center on allocation of storage resources via LUN assignment, RAID levels, storage utilization, and backup scheduling.

Page 2: The Added Complexity of SAN Management

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Tags: storage networking

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