EMC Offers Management Software Subscriptions

With the clamor for management software increasing, storage company EMC aimed to meet such customer demand Monday by adding two new features to its ControlCenter line, the centerpiece of its AutoIS strategy to help IT staffs get more control of their storage systems.

The Hopkinton, Mass. firm added EMC AutoAdvice, an intelligence engine that grants Web-based access to performance analysis and resource utilization across of IT infrastructure, and San Architect, Web-based software for design, modeling and validation. Both pieces of software are sold as one-year subscriptions.

EMC Marketing Director of Open Software Pat Cassidy said customers would use AutoAdvice, a new automated storage product, to isolate problems and ferret out potential trouble spots in a company’s infrastructure. It treats these issues with recommendations for fixes, he said, based on analyses of customer data about current and legacy application and infrastructure performance.

AutoAdvice aggregates the collected metrics, analyses them against EMC’s ControlCenter repository, and pipes information that can be used in consolidation efforts, root cause analysis, and performance trending, to the customer. It also warns about potential performance and capacity problems.

AutoAdvice met with approval of some industry analysts. Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst Steve Kenniston said technologies such as AutoAdvice hint at the direction of the future of storage management services, a multi-billion market by some counts. In short, this is a dashboard, or “single pane if glass” concept.

“End users want simple-to-use tools that can view as much of their environment as possible through a single pane of glass,” Kenniston said. “The fact that EMC does the heavy lifting for the customer — meaning IT shops don’t have to dedicate already-taxed people to make all this work — has to be considered a smart move.”

Enterprise Storage Group Analyst Nancy Marrone concurred.

“The interesting thing about this is that the solution has an intelligent inference engine, which means it basically keeps track of problems, what the issues were that caused the problems and then “learns” how to solve those problems,” Marrone said. “So when an alert goes to a customer site, the Auto-Advice solution also sends on suggestions as to how to address the problem. The key to this is that they actually correlate this information from all of the enterprises they are managing, so they have a very significant knowledge base. EMC can then offer customers a significant range of advice that would not be possible if the customer were just monitoring their own enterprise. So it’s a great proactive solution, which in of itself is powerful, but the extensive knowledge base makes it a very attractive solution to any user with multiple applications or any user that might be turning up a new application.”

SAN Architect provides storage architects and IT administrators guidance because it models and validates SANs, including applications, hosts, host bus adapters, switches and storage systems. Cassidy said the software cuts down on manual tasks and removes the guesswork from hypothetical scenarios. With it, IT staffs can discern which changes need to be affected, and make them using EMC SAN Manager software. SAN Architect is targeted for users who are considering multiple server, switch, or array rollouts and consolidations or those who require change validation without affecting production.

The beauty of the software, Cassidy said, is that it provides customers with previously unavailable online access to EMC’s information management knowledge bank, bridging the gap between its repository and customers’ systems. SAN Architect and AutoAdvice can be used as stand-alone applications or as an extension to EMC’s ControlCenter applications.

AutoAdvice is available as a one-year subscription at $400 per CPU, scaling from one to 50,000 CPUs. SAN Architect costs $2,400 for an entry-level, one-year subscription.