Storage Manager 5.3 - EMC Isilon and New Device Wizards for Big Data, Fun, and Profit

The Storage Manager product team has been hard at work these last few months adding some killer functionality to the product. Storage Manager 5.3  includes the following improvements:

  • Support for EMC Isilon Arrays
  • New “Add New Device Wizard”
  • An overhaul of the Administrator's Guide (user documentation)
  • Improved support for IBM SVC Arrays
  • Improved support for EMC VMAX, DMX, and Symmetrix Arrays
  • New monitoring metrics and support for tiering data for EMC VNX / CLARiiON Arrays

We're most excited about our new support for EMC Isilon and for our new "Add New Device Wizard" so, without further ado, let's dive into it.

Storage Monitoring for your Big Data Environment

EMC bought Isilon Systems at the end of 2010. It is now clear that Isilon is EMC's major play in the Big Data space with the recent marketing efforts we've seen around the technology. Isilon has a very unique scale-out architecture that can be expanded to literally Petabytes of storage data in a single cluster (apparently Apple purchased a 12 Petabyte system just to store iTunes video). It appears that Isilon has a bright future in the storage marketplace and now you can use Storage Manager to help monitor this impressive storage system.

Main Console and other views for EMC Isilon:

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Easier Setup and Configuration with the New "Add a Device Wizard"

We've always tried to make it extremely easy to setup and configure Storage Manager to monitor your environment, but in v5.3 we're really proud of the work we've done to improve this flow across the different array vendors we support. Although SMI-S is a "standard," it is not a technology that is ready to use out of the box. Often you have to install and then configure an SMI-S provider to communicate with your array, which can be frustrating because depending on array type or vendor sometimes it's stand-alone software, sometimes it's embedded on the array, and sometimes it's part of the vendor's management software. Even finding where to get the provider can vary from vendor to vendor. With the new "Add a Device Wizard" combined with our streamlined documentation, we're hoping to ease that setup process dramatically.

But rather than talking about it. I'll walk you through an example of configuring an EMC CLARiiON array in the new version of Storage Manager. We begin on the standard Getting Started page:

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I simply select "Add More" next to Storage Arrays to add my array. For those of you familiar with previous versions of Storage Manager, you may remember that there were multiple different ways to add arrays. Well, we've eliminated the confusing variation in workflows. Now you have one place to go to add all of your arrays to Storage Manager. When I click "Add More," I'm presented with a selection box to select my array:

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Once I select my array, I'm brought to a customized page for my array type. We've done the legwork for you and determined how each vendor deploys their SMI-S providers and given you guidance on how to configure the provider, the array, and Storage Manager for each array type and vendor. This should help eliminate confusion around which IP address or credentials to enter (as the Provider and Array IP and credentials tend to be different for most environments).

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To further streamline setup, we've created custom help document links as you can see in the Yellow Text Box above. If I click on that help link, I'm brought to the page below. The help document explains what SMI-S deployment looks like for this array family. Links in the page will take you directly to guidance on how to download, install, and troubleshoot configuration of the vendor's SMI-S providers.

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We've heard repeatedly from customers that the link from Storage Manager to the vendor's provider can be troublesome. Whether due to stability, problems with configuration, or just wrong credentials, we've sought to remove that issue by placing an easy "Test Connection" button right on the page. This will verify that Storage Manager can indeed communicate with the SMI-S provider with the given IP address and credentials. If for some reason Storage Manager cannot communicate with the Provider, we will give you troubleshooting steps you can take to determine the root cause of the issue and then try again.

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Storage Manager can communicate with the all is done! Well, not so fast. Storage Manager is a very scalable architecture and while we would like to think we know what's best for everyone, only you know the exact layout of your environment. This is especially important when deciding how you are going to distribute load between the Storage Manager Server and Agents and also between the Agents and the Arrays they are going to monitor. The final step in the configuration process then is to just select which agent you'd like to communicate with this SMI-S provider. Note that a single SMI-S provider can monitor multiple arrays (although this again varies by array vendor and type) so this is not necessarily 1 Agent to 1 Array. Once you select the agent you'd like to use to monitor your arrays, select assign agent, and you're done!

As always, make sure that you've opened the appropriate ports (4319) in your firewall between the Storage Manager Server and Agent so the agent can send data back to the server. If your Storage Manager Server is monitoring the SMI-S provider directly, make sure that ports 5988 & 5989 are clear.

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We hope that this dramatically simplifies the configuration of Storage Manager for both new and old customers. Of course, we'd love your feedback on how we can make it even better!

Try out version 5.3 of Storage Manager today! It is now live in the Customer Portal for all SolarWinds customers on active maintenance. If you are not a customer, you can always download an eval or go to our Live Demo to try it out!