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New infrastructure technology can free companies from a single vendor, make information more available to more people, and keep server and storage independent from each other, allowing use of best-of-breed technology and avoiding having one glitch drag the whole infrastructure down. While storage area networks deliver all of that, the job of the storage administrator becomes exponentially harder.
InterSAN Inc. hopes to make it springtime for storage administrators Monday when it unveils Pathline 2.5 management software for storage area networks. Pathline could automate so much of the storage administrator's job that the position itself may evolve into more strategic endeavors, including managing the data.
Fidelity Investments is an early user of Pathline 2.5. The financial-services company had the storage administrator's job broken down into six categories, and, says Keith Shinn, Fidelity's VP of distributed systems architecture, "InterSAN has overcome any challenges we've presented."
Shinn says administrators are constantly doing one of six things with the SAN: adding a server, adding storage, taking away storage, migrating storage, replacing a host bus adapter on a server, or decommissioning a server from the SAN. Pathline is helping Fidelity get one of those jobs done in a day, he says. The same job before Pathline took about 1.7 days, and the time savings adds up, Shinn says. "Back in 2000, we measured more than 100 such changes per month." Pathline automates those functions across storage system vendors, including EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM.
Pathline 2.5's new features include charge-back reports, enhanced decision support, automated path reconfiguration, and provisioning workflow management. That workflow management is designed to let administrators reserve storage capacity well ahead of time, watch the software automatically enable the reserved storage during a specific window, and set policies for the regular installation of storage capacity during windows in time or business conditions.
The software is available immediately from Pathline or partner Hitachi Data Systems. Companies pay according the amount of data on their SANs and its diversity.
Clipper Group analyst Ann McFarland says InterSAN is doing something no other vendors appear to be doing--automating forgotten processes she calls the messes of SAN management. "Pathline will automate a lot of incomplete paths administrators can't prune easily," she says. "It cleans up all the broken branches they have to cut off." Shinn confirms that, saying Fidelity already has gained an entire terabyte of storage from such pruning.