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CA switches on to SAN management
Joining the party
Computer Associates Inc yesterday became the last of the big three systems management vendors to enter the burgeoning SAN management software arena, shipping a product which it promoted as offering application-centric views of storage networks, as well as integration with its existing systems and storage management products.
Over a dozen other vendors are already competing in the sector, including CA's systems management rivals BMC Software Inc and IBM Corp subsidiary Tivoli, which entered in 2001 and 2000 respectively. CA has previously issued a framework with some abilities to discover networks, but that software - sometimes known as the Sanity framework - was only a very lightweight application.
CA's presence in most high-end datacenters with its systems management and other storage management products will be a huge help selling its latest SAN management product. CA is already shipping an SRM product, as well as a storage management portal and backup management tools, and the SAN management tool will round out this portfolio.
CA's vice president Chris Pitcher said: "We may be a few versions behind, but we have just as many features as the other products out there." He added that early versions of other suppliers' tools had had only limited abilities. "It's only relatively recently - a year or so ago - that SAN devices have had proper management APIs. So we're not really that late at all."
Like other SAN management products, the CA software handles the hardware administration tasks which otherwise would have to be completed using the individual software tools - or element managers - supplied with the switches, hubs, storage arrays, HBAs and other components of a SAN. CA has licensed API access to these devices from their manufacturers, which include companies such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc, QLogic Corp, McData Corp, or EMC Corp.
One advantage of a SAN management product is that IT staff need only learn how to use one multipurpose tool, rather than a set of point management tools.
Referring to the ability to integrate SAN Manager with CA's Unicenter system management tool and other products, Pitcher said: "This is a tool that will not change the way that operations people will work, because they'll be using the same tools and policies to manage the SAN as they're using for the rest of the enterprise. The SAN becomes just another network. A switch on a SAN or on an IP network - a zone or a VLAN, it's the same concept."
SAN management software also presents information about an entire SAN. The application focus of SAN Manager will allow administrators to call up views of a storage network which show only the elements that are associated with a specific application. Although CA described this as a unique quality of its product, other SAN management suppliers such as BMC and start-up InterSan Inc also claim to have taken an application-centric approach.
Among the detail features of the CA software is the ability to incorporate into its interface digital photographs of wiring closets, and to link logical representation or layout diagrams to the elements in these photographs.