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In the storage market, software is the new name of the game. Yankee estimates the storage management market will grow from $6.2 billion in 2004 to $8.7 billion by 2008. ILM and SRM are the latest acronyms, but analysts warn companies to conduct a thorough evaluation of the products before they purchase them.
"I think the biggest challenge is getting through the vendors' claims," says Yankee's Balaouras. "A lot of vendors claim they can manage competitors' storage equipment, but when you pull back the covers it's really just basic monitoring, not configuration." She advises CIOs to insist on seeing a real-world demonstration of the software's capabilities, "not just PowerPoints," and make sure products conform to Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) standards.
Kem Hutchinson agrees. The associate director of operations and LAN technology manager of TSYS, a third-party credit card processing company based in Columbus, Ga., says his company went through a six-month testing phase of products before it chose to implement EMC Corp.'s Visual SRM. TSYS employs more than 5,300 people and oversees more than 300 million credit card accounts, but was having difficulty managing the storage capacity of the company's shared drives. "We were in a reactive, not proactive, mode," he says. "We would get to a point where we were at 98 percent capacity and we'd go in and fix them for the time being, and then weeks later we'd be back in the same boat."
As a test, Hutchinson and his team put the SRM tool to work on one of the company's most heavily used public drives. They began the scan on a Friday night, and within 24 hours the software had tagged 540,000 of the disk's 950,000 files as data that could be moved to a cheaper storage device. Hutchinson says the savings generated from that one test alone paid for the cost of the SRM software. "That definitely saved us from having to purchase more capacity," he says.
And although vendors promise that their software works on all types of hardware, don't underestimate the integration issues. If your shop has a number of different or proprietary systems that need to be cobbled together, you could be facing some challenges. Massengill says Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center still faces issues in getting all its disparate systems to be managed under one software program. "I have not found one product that handles everything," he says.
Finally, make sure you're shopping for the storage management product that fits your company's needsand budget. Large-cap companies have a range of options from a number of vendors, including EMC, Veritas, IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. The software you choose should depend on the complexity of your infrastructure and the number of different types of storage devices in your data center. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there for small and medium-sized companies (fewer than 500 employees), and vendors are creating products that are preprogrammed and easy to use.
Implementation costs vary wildly, depending on the product you choose and the amount of data you need to store. Massengill says his rollout has so far cost the medical center about $3.5 million, but prices have fallen drastically since he began the rollout in 2000.