Around the Storage Block Blog
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HP and Microsoft - Your Journey. Your Cloud. Your Way

A couple of weeks ago, we had a full day of live streaming interviews from Microsoft Management Summit.  There's no doubt that both HP and Microsoft are titans in technology and the partnership is helping our customers with their cloud journey - whether that is a private cloud or hybrid cloud.  The interviews we did focused on that.  There are too many to embed them all but I'm going to put a few of them here and give you links to the rest. There were 13 in all but this was my favorite!

Performance Thresholding in HP Storage Essentials

By Govind Rangasmy, Product Manager 

As a product guy, I'm constantly thinking of ways to simplify day-to-day operations for  storage administrators. In that vein, one of the more interesting features recently released by the HP Storage Essentials team is automated storage performance policies - this helps manage performance on HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array  (EVA) and HP StorageWorks XP Disk Arrays.

As part of the requirement, I told the engineering team that policy management in HP Storage Essentials should be as easy as managing their Outlook rules. In Outlook, you define a policy (rule) using a precooked template, select a bunch of options, fire it up and off you go. I indicated to the engineers that for HP Storage Essentials to be effective and useful, the system should automatically monitor all of the EVA and XP storage arrays under management in a large enterprise, sending alerts if any deviations occur from the defined rules. Our engineering team ran with the idea, and we packaged up the new feature in the latest HP Storage Essentials 6.2 release.

There's an old storage axiom that every application performance issue is by default a storage issue until it's proven otherwise. While this simple wisdom holds up in most cases but not all. I recently attended a conference call with a customer who said that whenever he would go to a cross functional, application trouble shooting meeting, typically it would turn into a finger pointing session after five minutes. To avoid a similar fate, he suggests the Storage guy come prepared with lots of charts and data. Data speaks the truth. When you show up with more reports than the "other" team (Server or Application), it's much easier to prove that you're not the culprit and the storage team wins.

If HP Storage Essentials is deployed in your datacenters, you have the opportunity to make a splash at your next performance engineering meeting. HP Storage Essentials makes it easy to configure performance policies using pre-configured templates with a few mouse clicks. Once these policies are defined for your system components, whether it be controllers, array groups, or vdisks, the rest is automatic.  HP Storage Essentials will send you an email containing data to quickly produce the charts and reports you need.

(NOTE: Click on an image to see a larger version of it)

Overcoming Storage Complexities with HP Storage Essentials 6.2

VJ Garcha , Product Manager HP Storage Essentials software

Recently, we launched HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Manager (SRM) software 6.2, a new enhancement to our Business Service Automation (BSA) portfolio. We designed HP Storage Essentials 6.2 to help our customers increase performance monitoring, reduce management costs in heterogeneous environments and ultimately manage storage more efficiently.

Coming from an HP Storage Essentials product manager standpoint, I'm most excited about the below three features of the new version:

1.         Storage Resource Management and Disaster-Recovery Environments

Storage networks have grown rapidly in recent years, increasing the critical need for proper management processes. A well executed strategy gives administrators better visibility into their infrastructure, optimized capacity planning and overall stronger performance.  While many enterprises have multiple management tools from myriad of vendors, HP Storage Essentials 6.2 is a single SRM solution for heterogeneous environments. It improves resource utilization, lowers management costs and increases the quality of services to help drive goals for the business.

With the HP Storage Essentials 6.2 release customers can now manage storage in a disaster-recovery environment.  It is well known that the availability of key application services and information is critical to maintaining business process in today's environment, and any outage has far reaching consequences on the business operation as a whole. 

More often than not, organizations have multiple replication technologies within the environment. This leads to poor visibility and lack of capacity management, ultimately limiting efficiency and impeding SLA compliance. HP Storage Essentials 6.2 helps organizations reach a resolution, enabling auto-discovery, mapping capabilities, reporting and management of replication environments. 

2.         Architecture Options

Organizations used to have to choose a tool based on their requirement for an agent-rich or agent-less architectures, but now they are no longer limited to one option over the other. The new release of HP Storage Essentials lets customers pick their architecture (agent-less, agent-rich or hybrid). An agent less deployment delivers quicker time to value and requires less people cycles due to lack of agent life cycle management. An agent rich deployment delivers reports, forecasts and analysis in the context of applications and host volumes. So depending on the situation HP Storage Essentials 6.2 can be deployed in a agent less mode or agent rich mode or just a perfect blend of it.

3.         Storage Automation

Are you intrigued by the idea of an internal storage cloud but wary of the potential disruption to your data center? HP Storage Essentials 6.2 is your platform to build a simple, internal storage cloud using your existing SAN to automate storage service delivery without any changes to your existing IT infrastructure. HP Storage Essentials 6.2 allows you to quickly and easily set up a simple service catalog to provide fully automated, on-demand access to a range of IT services to efficiently manage your SAN and virtual hosts.  

You can leverage HP Business Service Automation (BSA) Server Automation, HP Storage Essentials and HP Operations Orchestration to order and provision a VM with operating system, application, and SAN storage in a fully heterogeneous environment.      


Is it time for you to consider storage automation?

By Jack Hughes, Storage Automation Product Manager

For what seems like years, the trades have been touting storage automation as the next big thing to improve data center efficiency. No doubt, there is vast potential for automation to help streamline SAN and NAS management. Storage provisioning, back-up, capacity reclamation and configuration management are a few examples of storage services typically requiring lots of repetitive, time consuming manual processes.  So why are enterprise organizations, even those who have made the leap into server and network automation, reluctant to bring automation to storage operations?

Perhaps the answer lies in the history and culture of storage administration which has been somewhat shrouded in secrecy and segregated from the rest of the IT community by security measures. Whatever the reason, storage administrators often substitute home-grown scripts for true automation, relegating themselves to endless updates in order to stay current with the ever changing storage infrastructure.

This set-up worked just fine over the years until the disruptive force of virtualization changed everything. The virtualization revolution forced most organizations to re-think the way they’re doing business, and SAN and NAS management is no exception.

What we’re hearing now from customers is that the virtual revolution and its indisputable benefits also comes with a dark side manifesting itself in VM sprawl, over-provisioned storage, and underutilized capacity leading to application performance bottlenecks. Data center and NOC managers are concluding that the old ways of managing storage are no longer viable. Transparency of information about the storage infrastructure including capacity utilization, compliance, and performance is a must. In addition, more and more organizations are considering adding storage to self-service portals to more effectively meet the demands of growing and constantly changing virtual host infrastructure.

The virtualization revolution has provided the impetus to finally make storage automation essential for successful enterprise IT management. But to effectively meet the challenge, you need the right tools. HP Business Service Automation (BSA) is a good place to start. HP Operations Orchestration (OO) is the industry leader in run book automation and is tightly integrated with HP Storage Essentials. Together, these tools provide out-of-the box storage automation flows for rapid deployment of a variety of storage services. In addition, custom flows are easily created with the OO Studio using a simple drag, drop, and wire interface to quickly automate storage services and routines.

In upcoming editions of this blog I’ll talk more about specific use cases for automating storage services, but in the mean time I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of storage automation and its relevance in today’s virtual data centers.

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Delivering on the promise of storage automation

By Nimish Shelat, Product Manager for HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management software

I wrote in July on the developments the storage software group has been doing.  I followed up with how Storage Essentials SRM software can help manage storage in a virtual environment (Link Here).  But I realized I left off some of the fundamentals - I get so caught up in this stuff I forget not everyone lives and breathes it as I do!  So let me back up a bit.

The HP Storage Essentials (SE) software suite is a comprehensive storage resource management (SRM) solution that simplifies management of heterogeneous enterprise storage environment via storage provisioning, metering, and customized reporting, business application and backup monitoring, and end-to-end performance management.

Storage Essentials is a key component of the HP Business Service Automation (BSA) suite, which enables integrated automation of the entire IT service including applications, servers, network, and storage infrastructure.  The integrated suites allow customers to discover and baseline their service infrastructure and manage its operations to enable service performance, availability, and improved IT agility.

Today I want to build on my last post and talk a bit more about delivering on the promise of automation......

We have noticed that in most enterprise customer environments typical IT service involves many components like applications, servers, network, and storage. Each service has multiple configurations and interdependencies and is managed by different teams using disparate management systems.  Customers with such an interconnected IT infrastructure require multiple IT systems and teams to collaborate in a coordinated, process-oriented approach to be effective.

Making a simple task such as provisioning new storage to an application is typically a multi-step process that requires that several teams work together.  I've seen it look like this:

The storage team needs to create new storage volume and assign it to the server

  • The server team needs to create the server logical volumes and/or file systems to use the new storage

  • And finally the DBA or the application administrator needs to assign the new storage to the appropriate application

In the same way, typical ITIL-defined change processes for storage infrastructure require coordination across multiple systems and teams, like this:

  • The storage team scopes the changes to the storage domain-including the host-based storage resources that would be potentially impacted

  • The storage team inputs this data into a change management system as a Request for Change

  • The Change Advisory Board (or the IT service managers) evaluates service impact of the proposed changes to plan/schedule the change

  • Upon approval from the Change Advisory Board, the storage team executes the change

  • The storage team updates the change management system with the executed changes

  • The IT service manager updates the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) to reflect the new state of the IT service-with the changed infrastructure and its configuration and interrelationships

All of these processes although critical are executed manually today.  This puts a lot of pressure on the customer who must manually integrate the systems and coordinate the end-to-end process.  Automation can help with the challenges associated with such a manual method. 

As I discussed last month, HP's storage automation software suite is designed specifically to streamline these manual process.  The suite is comprised of HP Storage Essentials Storage Resource Management software and the newly released Storage Essentials Performance Edition.  

There's another cool product that further enables end-to-end storage automation--HP Operations Orchestration runbook automation.  These two products offer a tight integration that automates storage provisioning, thereby reducing manual, error-prone IT management processes.  This solution offers many virtualization-centric workflows that integrate server, storage, and network tasks in the virtualized environment. Check it out for yourself here.

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About the Author(s)
  • 25+ years experience around HP Storage. The go-to guy for news and views on all things storage..
  • This profile is for team blog articles posted. See the Byline of the article to see who specifically wrote the article.
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