What “Field of Dreams” Can Teach You About IT Projects and IT Operations Management

Posted by Brian Lett | Author Info

Dec 8, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Would you think that the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” has just as much to do with IT operations as it does with baseball. Remember the backstory? Themovie’s protagonist, Ray Kinsella, is an average and unsuccessful farmer, with regrets about his past. Like many on an IT team who gets struck with a bolt of inspiration – an idea for an IT-related project (a new application or service, probably along the lines of “what if we had a way to…” or “what if we did this:”) – Ray listens to a voice in the night telling him “If you build it, he will come.” He proceeds to plow under his crop, and construct a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield

 Then Ray’s “project” develops its own momentum – the seemingly now-corporeal ghost of Chicago White Sox outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson walks out of the cornfield bordering the newly built baseball field, admires everything, thanks Ray for what he’s done, and asks to come back – with “friends.”

 Now Ray on an IT team would have had a similar experience: Someone gets wind he’s been working on a Skunk Works project that, although radical, could be something amazing. Shoeless Joe is like that first test user that becomes the unintentional evangelist, and quickly starts to build a critical mass among users.

 At this stage in the IT project, things are going well: The user base has grown, the old guard (shown in the movie as 1960s anti-establishment author Thomas Mann) at first grudgingly agrees to take a look at the project, then likes what it sees, becomes a strong advocate, and things evolve quickly (maybe even moving to formal alpha testing). In the movie, Shoeless Joe has brought a throng of other now-corporeal ghosts to play baseball once again on Ray’s field (more users, all of whom love the work Ray’s done). And Ray’s wife Annie stands by her man, despite a wave of criticism coming from her brother Mark, the financial advisor and antagonist who absolutely cannot see or understand Ray’s vision, and what he’s done.

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Topics: storage resource management, storage management, Service Assurance, IT Operations

Accelerating Storage ROI with Storage Resource Management

Posted by Kevin Gray | Author Info

Nov 3, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Enterprise IT organizations are increasingly being called upon to help their companies drive revenue growth by processing and managing new data sources that increase business intelligence and enhance customer engagement. As a result, many of these organizations are experiencing data growth rates in excess of 20% to 60% per year. In addition, in order to improve efficiency, organizations are adopting virtualization and software-defined architectures that increase business agility and flexibility. By abstracting the hardware infrastructure, virtualization technology may obscure the relationships between application services and the underlying physical resources they consume. These new abstraction layers may make it difficult to optimize resources to meet service levels while controlling escalating storage costs.

While storage resource management (SRM) solutions have been around for over a decade, many enterprises are increasingly depending on SRM to gain insight into where and how capacity is being consumed. Storage resource management helps these organizations control costs as the size of their infrastructure grows. Understanding how SRM can help your business is essential to getting the most out of your investments in SRM and your storage infrastructure.

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Topics: storage resource management, 3rd Platform, third platform, ViPR, Big Data

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted by Gayatri Aryan | Author Info

Oct 13, 2014 9:00:00 AM

You know the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, well it’s true and even more so in highly virtualized environments.  Simply put, the ViPR SRM topology maps are just that.  The topology maps give you a pictorial depiction of an end-to-end relationship to provide storage administrators with the visibility they need to manage a complex, heterogeneous storage environment.  Consider a host for example, the topology map for which, in a single view, gives you an ability to traverse from the host, to its ports, to the fabric(s) it is connected to, all the way to the storage system.

There is more to this picture though.  It really becomes a navigation tool with the association of categories (outlined in red above).   Upon selection of the host, what is presented on the right hand side is the list of reports available for that device type (in this case the host).  As you select a different object (switch or array for example), a list of reports available for that device will be made available.  In essence, you get an ability to stay in the context of the object you started with while poking around the connected devices.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, third platform, ViPR

What ViPR SRM Can Show You About a VPLEX Environment

Posted by Gary Roberts | Author Info

Sep 22, 2014 9:00:00 AM

VPLEX is EMC’s premier storage virtualization solution. While VPLEX greatly simplifies everyday storage management, storage virtualization has presented storage administrators with new challenges in areas such as reporting, performance troubleshooting and chargeback. In ViPR SRM, new capabilities enable you to peer under the virtualization layer to understand what’s actually going on in a virtualized environment. In a VPLEX environment, ViPR SRM enables a storage administrator to understand how storage capacity is being used, and who is using it to understand end-to-end relationships from host to storage and to verify that VPLEX is configured according to best practices.

For example, a challenge for a storage administrator is to understand, overall, how storage is being used - how much for traditional block or file, how much is virtualized, how much is free, and so forth. New to ViPR SRM, a unified enterprise capacity dashboard shows total storage capacity for the environment in one place, and how it is used. The dashboard includes a view of usable capacity (top middle view), with a bar indicating how much is used for virtual storage. Note that the virtual storage is actually based on physical block storage; so ViPR SRM carefully ensures that this block storage is not counted twice in the enterprise dashboard.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, ViPR, Virtual Environments, storage management, VPLEX

Zero Growth Storage: Coming to Your MBOs Soon

Posted by Rich Simmons | Author Info

Sep 5, 2014 9:00:00 AM

I heard an interesting comment the other day from a Product Management friend of mine. He was talking about a recent customer briefing he was giving where the customer’s main goal was zero growth storage. That may sound like an odd goal given that we have all seen the leading analysts’ charts on data growth: up and to the right! So it seems counter intuitive that you would be able to hold storage growth flat. That was my initial reaction, but then I started thinking, “Well, how would you go about doing that?”

I admit there was Corona involved as I pondered this more, but really given the stuff that we as an industry have accomplished, we should be able to at least come close right? I mean if my local golf course can send me a text offering to book me a tee time in the next 45 min because it’s slow right now, we should be able to figure out where the under/over-utilized storage devices are in our environment without resorting to spreadsheets and tiger teams.

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Topics: storage resource management, 3rd Platform, ViPR, storage management

ViPR SRM Data Normalization

Posted by Gary Roberts | Author Info

Sep 1, 2014 9:00:00 AM

One of the greatest features of ViPR SRM 3.5 is the ability to look at your entire storage environment as a whole. This manifests in the ability to understand end-to-end relationships (for example, in topology views, path details and chargeback reports) and to see global views that aggregate all of your storage. Prior to ViPR SRM 3.5, this functionality was only available for EMC VMAX and VNX arrays. An important new feature set in v3.5 is that these capabilities are being extended to other top storage platforms, from other vendors in addition to EMC.

In order to accomplish this, the ViPR SRM engineering team goes through an analytic process called “data normalization.” To create end-to-end relationships within ViPR SRM, we need to correlate data from all the devices in the path, such as hosts, hypervisors, switches and arrays. However, each of the APIs for the various devices has a different way of representing the data used for this correlation. So, for a new array type, we have to modify this data to make it consistent with the representation by other devices. Similarly, for global dashboards that aggregate capacity across all storage, derived metrics need to be created for each new array that meet a consistent definition for each capacity classification, so that only like values are added.

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Topics: storage resource management, storage management

EMC ViPR SRM 3.5: More Than a Name Change, It Delivers Big!

Posted by Paula Swanson | Author Info

Aug 11, 2014 9:00:00 AM

You know how it goes, it’s frequently very difficult to follow one big release 3.0 in January 2014 with another; yet ViPR SRM 3.5 does exactly that. With ViPR SRM’s introduction, reporting on traditional and Software-defined Storage environments has never been easier. Not to mention, the tighter integration with EMC ViPR makes it simpler to understand the relationships between ViPR tenants and the underlying storage resources.

In addition to lots of cool new features, we also changed the product name. With the 3.5 release, EMC Storage Resource Management Suite was renamed to EMC ViPR SRM to highlight EMC's commitment to delivering comprehensive monitoring and reporting for ViPR Software-defined Storage environments. ViPR SRM simplifies the transition to a Software-defined infrastructure by providing a management framework that enhances visibility and control in both traditional and Software-defined environments.

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Topics: storage resource management, ViPR, VPLEX

EMC Has the Industry’s Strongest Software-Defined Storage Portfolio, AND, It Just Got A Lot Stronger

Posted by Christopher Ratcliffe | Author Info

Jul 8, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Since the announcement of ViPR 1.0 at EMC World 2013, it’s been a non-stop flurry of activity here at EMC and the last month has been no exception. We announced one all-new product and three significant updates to existing products at EMC World 2014, all of which shipped in the last few weeks of June. With the general availability of the ECS Appliance (Powered by ViPR), ViPR 2.0, ViPR SRM 3.5 and Service Assurance Suite 9.3 we have strengthened our Software-defined Storage portfolio and brought public-cloud hyperscale capabilities and economics to everyone.

These are some pretty strong claims and it would be easy to dismiss them as standard marketing hyperbole as, let’s be honest, pretty much every storage sales guy or startup is probably saying the same thing to their customers. The difference with EMC is that at this point, these are all-new products. We haven’t just taken the marketing hype around Software-defined Storage and applied it to a bunch of existing platforms. We’ve built two truly differentiated Software-defined Storage platforms from the ground up and applied a lot of what we learned during the process to significantly enhance our existing products.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, 3rd Platform, ViPR, ScaleIO, ECS Appliance

Leveraging the EMC Design Partner Program to Create Easy-to-Use Software-Defined Storage and Networks

Posted by Mary Beth Raven | Author Info

Jun 16, 2014 9:00:00 AM

As storage moves to becoming more defined through software, it means that storage administrators spend less time with the actual hardware boxes, and more time in front of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and Command Line Interfaces (CLIs). The storage administrators’ experiences with the software influences their overall assessment of and attitudes towards the entire product. That’s why the User Experience Design group in the Advanced Software Division is working to make the software user interfaces for EMC ViPR, ViPR SRM, and Service Assurance (SA) Suite, as easy to use as possible.

We start by understanding that there is no such thing as “universal ease of use.” A product is only usable by a certain set of people, and we need to understand the skill sets and motivations of our users – the storage administrators. To build our understanding, we recently started a “Design Partner” program in which customers volunteer to spend several hours a month with us, whether that is having us come onsite for visits, or simply having conference calls with screen sharing. Design Partners have the opportunity to shape the product in its early stages, and develop working relationships with the product designers and developers.

We leverage the Design Partner Program to inform us in the following ways:
• To help understand the job role in general and to create personas epitomizing the job requirements
• To provide general feature input about the upcoming and future releases
• To give us specific usability feedback on the upcoming release.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, 3rd Platform

No Pain But Plenty to Gain

Posted by Paula Swanson | Author Info

May 19, 2014 9:00:00 AM

There’s a common misconception that transformations have to be a painful process. “No pain, no gain” is the catchphrase used when it comes to dealing with difficult situations, whether it’s battling illness or injury or pushing through a tough workout. People avoid change and transformation because they’re afraid of the unknown and the perceived pain (price, time, labor, emotions) that will come with it.

”No pain, no gain” shouldn’t apply when it comes to managing your storage infrastructure, yet for many customers, it is a daily reality. One customer I recently met with said while attending an event in early 2014, he was surprised to learn that many of his peers are experiencing similar challenges to his company when it came to capacity management, often using spreadsheets to build a true picture of their capacity utilization. His comment piqued my curiosity, so I decided to do my own investigation.

Survey Says…
It turns out that a lot of customers are dealing with the same challenges, without any gains in IT efficiency. I researched a sampling of customers who purchased the EMC ViPR SRM  in Q4 2013 across a wide variety of vertical markets. Most customers either didn’t have a storage resource management solution or had a solution for only a portion of their environment. Some customers even had multiple tools. 
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Topics: storage resource management