Josef Cilia of APS Bank in Malta kindly shared his experience using SolarWinds Storage Manager (STM) with us.   We got some great insight into how STM is helping Josef keep his systems up and running and be more proactive in managing his systems with visibility all the way from servers and fabric to his arrays.  Josef’s feedback is provided below.

JC: Since I’ve installed Storage Manager, I can say that I have better piece of mind regarding my storage environment. Storage Manager not only helps me tackle problematic issues on my storage but also provides me with forecasts/projections for my storage (it tells you when it will reach 80%, 90% and 100%), immediate response by email whenever there are problems plus I can also monitor the status of serves such as the HBAs, memory, CPUs, disks and network.

Basically I’m monitoring 3 enterprise storages arrays namely a HP EVA4400, a HP EVA4100 and an IBM DS3524 (85TB of RAW data in all) together with 6 Brocade switches and 21 servers (up until now!).


SolarWinds: Since you implemented STM, what insight has it provided to you?

JC: Among the many helpful things that I have gained from installing this product is that I can drill down on every single LUN on my storage arrays and view detailed information such as total IOs/sec, read/write IOs, MB written/sec. and read/write latencies. The same data is also available for disks and disk groups. All data is displayed in graphical format.

Another simple but important thing is that I can check the redundancy on my controllers. I’ve never had such a visible picture where I can view the load on my storage controllers. It is helpful when it comes to viewing the top 10 LUNs by total IOPs, top 10 LUNs by total latency, top 10 LUNs by reads, top 10 LUNs by writes. These can be viewed at a glance. On my storage, I set rules to alert me whenever there are read access delays, write access delays, disk queue lengths, and when threshold usage is greater than 95%.

With regards to my fabric, now that I installed Storage Manager I can monitor the switch as a whole or individually port by port. This data is shown in a single screen where I can view the status of the ports (online/offline) or all the zoning on that particular switch. This tool also monitors the board temperature, fans status, power supplies status. I also set rules on these switches in such a way that if a port goes offline it alerts me immediately by sending an email. I have also set another threshold to alert me when there are errors/sec. generated on ports.

I’m also monitoring most of my servers connected to my fabric. Although this tool gives detailed information on the performance on the CPUs, disks, memory and network (which is more helpful to the server administrator), I manage the files stored on my storage meaning I can view which files are large and are using my storage, which files are orphaned and can be removed from the storage, duplicate files and what type of files are stored on my storage such as MP3s, images, DB files and many others. I run scheduled reports to extract such information from my storage and present these reports to my management on a monthly basis. I set some notifications on servers to alert me such as whenever there is high CPU or memory usage.  Another useful thing about Storage Manager is that servers do not require any restart after installing or uninstalling STM agent on them.

I use STM reporting for monthly progress reports which I present to the management. These reports are very easy to extract and they can be extracted in no time where in the past I had to spend about 3 hours to issue those reports. Another useful feature about this product is the way notifications are configured. Nowadays, I’m not wasting my time fire-fighting problems but now I’m able to be more proactive.

SolarWinds: How many issues have you found proactively that would have otherwise ended in a service performance issue or outage?


JC: Two within a month.


SolarWinds: Would you recommend SolarWinds Storage Manager and if so, why?

JC: Definitely yes. STM is helping me to forecast my storage, be more proactive before problems arise, have better visibility of all my SAN, have a visibility of the performance of my storage in a single screenshot, and much more.