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Symantec: Stop buying storage

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Symantec wants to help you stop buying storage - but first you have to buy its Veritas CommandCentral (VCC) software.

VCC 5.1 is an update on Symantec's agentless storage resource management software. It now features a Storage Change Manager component and facilities to help users increase drive array utilisation by providing visibility, Symantec says, from the application to the spindle. VCC supports both physical servers and VMware virtualised servers with no agent software running on the ESX server.

It claims its customers have saved as much as ten per cent of their IT capital budget by improving storage utilization levels up to 40 percentage points.

Symantec also claims that Storage Change Manager tracks storage infrastructure changes, helping customers to manage the impact of changes, and with policies and best practices for storage connectivity, configuration and compliance. The idea is to minimise app downtime by understanding the impact storage infrastructure changes will have, and fixing resulting problems faster.

Symantec has also introduced a subscription pricing option enabling "customers to pay as they realize storage savings in their environment – delivering a near immediate return on value", it says.

VCC uses a combination of SMI-S requests from storage products that support SMI-S, and API interface methods. All of the major vendors APIs are supported including EMC, HDS, IBM, NetApp and HP, in addition to the industry standard SMI-S (IBM, 3PAR).

Like other attempts at providing an across-the-storage-products SRM product there are some gaps in its coverage.

Asked if VCC can see 'to the spindle' in storage arrays which do some form of wide striping across spindles, such as 3PAR, Compellent and Pillar, a Symantec spokesperson said: "CommandCentral can report on the application all the way down the data path to the spindle. Mapping from application down to spindle is done automatically - spindles are in all cases physical disks in the storage arrays. We support 3PAR today, but not Compellent or Pillar."

VCC can operate in a limited way with storage arrays that perform thin provisioning. It can provide some ad-hoc reports around thin provisioning, for example, for NetApp.

It cannot manage object-based storage arrays such as EMC's Centera, but Centera support is being looked into for future releases. It has the ability to analyze unstructured data for duplicate files or business-inappropriate files and can report duplicate files (name, owner, size, and how many replications).

Symantec says there is no Hyper-V support but it is monitoring the uptake of Hyper-V and it's on the roadmap for future releases.

There is also a limit to to its agent-less operation. CommandCentral can do capacity planning and trending in an agent-less manner. Change tracking is also agent-less for configuration compliance, path management and environmental monitoring. CommandCentral automatically discovers a SAN's topology and assets from the HBA down to the backend device without an agent.

It does not require an agent on a VMware ESX server as information is collected via VI-SDK. But for certain functionality it does need agents on the host, like file scanning or detailed visibility of host assets like applications, fs or vm. Symantec says it is aggressively working on providing this functionality in an agent-less fashion as well.

The subscription model will not be available until next year and payment isn't contingent on storage capacity savings. It will allow customers to reduce their upfront cost before, hopefully, demonstrating an ROI but the subscription is non-refundable.

Symantec says Veritas CommandCentral 5.1 is the first SRM product to include storage change management functionality. It's available now with pricing starting from $20,000. ®

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