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Storage Dreaming - The Next Chapter for Storage Monitoring with SolarWinds

Level 14

Over the last 10 years, enterprise storage has been one of the most active areas of innovation and change in the IT environment. Storage forms the foundation of critical IT Server and Application infrastructure and IT Pros who are responsible for managing enterprise storage have had to learn and adapt as the demands of ever increasing business-critical applications push existing SAN and NAS architectures to their limits.  Most critically, virtualization of the server infrastructure has turned the end-to-end support of these applications into a rat's nest. This means that as end users clamor for better application performance and storage capacity, the Storage Pro is often left troubleshooting the environment with a collection of isolated tools to help him monitor, troubleshoot and maintain peak performance and availability. We've heard this loud and clear from the IT community and we believe there is a better way. With that I introduce you to SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor (SRM), our new native Orion module to monitor and manage your storage environment. Best of all, we already have a Beta available and we are excited to get your direct feedback so we can make even more improvements before release. Since we are delivering this functionality as part of Storage Manager (STM) and Storage Profiler (PL) (more details below), the Beta is open to STM and PL customers currently on Active Maintenance. If you are not a Storage Manager customer, but are still interested in participating, go ahead and sign-up as well, and I'll see if there is a way I can at least get you on a feedback call to interact with a SolarWinds-local install.

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Why SRM?

In 2010, SolarWinds acquired TekTools, which became our venerated Storage Manager product. Storage Manager is a very broad and deep product and has served to save the hides of many a Storage Admin from over-provisioned storage pools and LUN's behaving badly. However, we have heard consistently from you that when it comes to IT Operations Monitoring, you want a Single Pane of Glass view across the entire Application Stack (internally affectionately called "the AppStack"). Well, you'll be happy to know that we agree with that end-to-end vision of your IT environment - and we just can't pay that off by simply extending Storage Manager functionality on its current platform. SRM is the piece of the puzzle that along with our networking tools, Server and Application Monitor (SAM), Web Performance Monitor (WPM), and the recently integrated Virtualization Manager (VMAN) allows us to deliver to you a truly Application-centric view of your IT systems infrastructure performance and availability.

The AppStack

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Given your direct feedback, it's become clear that the performance of an individual piece of the IT infrastructure - a LUN, an Array, a VM, an ESXi Host - is only as important as it serves the overall health and availability of the business critical application it supports. To that end, SRM is built to finally give you a NOC view of your storage environment side-by-side with it's related physical and virtual servers and the applications running on them. Furthermore, the Orion platform was built from the ground-up to be a NOC platform and trying to make the current STM platform fit that model would be a extremely difficult feat at best. What do I mean by a NOC platform? Very simply all of the goodness you've come to expect from the Orion platform: Status, customizable UI dashboards, custom properties, a rotating NOC view, extremely flexible alerting and reporting, customizable UI widgets (e.g. custom Top 10's), the Network Atlas.....the list goes on. By bringing your storage data onto the Orion platform, we can enable you to see and interact with your data in the way you want and we're very excited to make this happen for you and your organizations.

Your New Storage Home

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Wait, but I own Storage Manager! What happens to me?

You'll be happy to know that you're coming along with us on this ride. Hopefully, you're as excited as we are. SRM will be delivered very similarly to how we've delivered the Virtualization Manager integration with NPM and SAM. Storage Manager and Storage Profiler customers on Active Maintenance at the time of GA will be entitled to SRM as part of their Maintenance.

Does this mean that I need to own another Orion module product (e.g. NPM, SAM) in order to deploy SRM?

Absolutely not. SRM can be stood up on it's own, the same as any stand-alone Orion module. However, the team is working extremely hard to ensure that there is seamless integration across our primary "Systems Management" products so you can get full end-to-end visibility when you deploy SRM with SAM or VMAN. As I stated above, the end goal is to give you full Application to Array visibility of your IT environment whether your applications are running on physical or virtual servers and integration with SAM and VMAN are key to fulfilling that vision. Continue watching the Product Forums and Product Blog for updates about upcoming SAM Betas and VMAN Betas to test this out in your own environment.

Furthermore, you can continue to run Storage Manager in your environment and we're working hard on making sure our licensing allows you the flexibility to deploy the way you need to in order to meet your business requirements.

Do I need to be running STM in order to run SRM?

No. Unlike the current VMAN integration where the VMAN Virtual Appliance is feeding data collected from your VMware and Hyper-V environment to the Orion database, SRM has been developed to collect data directly from your arrays (or their data providers like SMI-S). SRM is a native Orion module and does not collect or share data with Storage Manager beyond that required to enforce licensing.

OK, but will you support MY device?

The Enterprise Storage market could be an academic case study in long-tail markets. Furthermore, each of the vendors have made data collection and device modeling completely different across every array family - even array families ostensibly under the same brand name or corporate umbrella. Long story short, we have to make choices on where to start and matching all of STM's incredibly deep array support in v1 simply wasn't feasible. So where did we start? Our current Beta has support for:

  • The EMC VNX Family - This includes EMC's VNX (formerly CLARiiON) and VNX2 architectures as well as the VNX NAS Gateway devices (formerly Celerra). VNX enthusiasts I have good news - We will now have full block and file (Unified) support under a single device type.
  • The Dell EqualLogic PS Series (SAN)

In short order, we should have a Beta available for:

I promise you that's not where our vision ends. Stay tuned for more info. Either way, I encourage everyone interested to sign-up for the Beta - the survey will ask what devices you have in your environment and I'll be proactive in reaching out to folks when your device is ready for Beta testing.

So What's Next?

You can be assured that this will not be the last post on this topic before the product is released. I'm sure you have outstanding questions I have not addressed, so please don't hesitate to ask and I'll address them directly and/or roll them up into follow-on posts! Furthermore - go sign-up for the Beta and try SRM today!

31 Comments
Level 14

Super awesome!  A little disappointed to not see IBM in that list of supported devices but hopeful that will make it into the list by the time the production release is ready to go.

If we proceed with an implementation of Storage Manager is there a nice upgrade path with data preservation, etc or is this a rip and replace?

Level 14

Hi jbiggley,

As I described above, you can run them side-by-side monitoring the same arrays, so you can use them both to get the data you want. I wouldn't call that rip and replace.

Level 14

Thanks for the clarification.  Now all I have to do is purchase Storage Manager so that I can get into the SRM beta

Level 9

Will SRM cover fiber channel switches (eg: Brocade and Cisco MDS, etc...)?

How well is Storage monitoring integrated with Virtual monitoring for end-to-end analysis (eg:  Drive > VM > LUN > Storage Pool > Controller, etc... for performance and capacity, etc...)?

Is this SRM related to the EMC SRM product? Counting VMware SRM, this makes three products I know of called SRM.

Level 12

This is very exciting!  Do you plan to consolidate the data from SRM into the NPM MS SQL database?

-Jason Henson

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services

Level 14

Hi Jason,

Since SRM will be a native Orion module, it will collect data and store it in the same MS SQL Server database as NPM if NPM is also installed. Same logic goes for SAM, WPM, etc.

Level 14
  • The current SRM v1 plan is focused on SAN and NAS devices and their relationships to the virtual and physical server environment (we've been known to refer to this as "logical mapping"). Deep network (both IP and FC) integration is not currently a focus for v1 (we've been known to refer to this as "physical mapping"). However, you will be able to use your existing SolarWinds networking tools in a side-by-side install with SRM. Also, if you are monitoring your Brocade/MDS switches today in STM, you will be able to continue to do so.
  • Given the first bullet, our hope is "very well" 🙂 Obviously, going to be looking for customer feedback on this point during the Beta process!
  • There is no relationship, explicit or implied, between SolarWinds products and EMC's or it's child company's, VMware, products. I'm guessing the EMC product does draw from similar inspiration as SolarWinds SRM in it's naming: What is storage resource management (SRM)? - Definition from WhatIs.com
    • Given we haven't released yet, do you have a better suggestion? We're all ears! (BTW - If you haven't noticed already, we have a strange preference for TLA's. )
Level 9

Look forward to this change.  However since we are a Dell Compellent shop we will have to wait until that is supported. 

Level 14

What sort of impact is that going to have on the database?  I know that NTA was recently peeled off to its own DB to help ease the pressure on the core DB.  Just wondering how this will scale especially for large enterprise customers.

Level 12

Balki 1429,

I have a Client that I am working with now, that completed the Survey and has been waiting since Thursday of last week to get the download link for this new BETA. I would appreciate it if we can get them the BETA ASAP. We are currently hoping to provide feedback in monitoring he below in SRM or STM.

Best Regards,

Derik Pfeffer

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services

Level 7

Good Morning.

Pls,I requested for the download link to the Beta Version of the 5.8 Storage Manager but I have not yet received link.

I would appreciate it if I get this link ASAP.

I already have an account and i have filled the request form online.

The License number is: SW21825232

Level 14

Hi derik.pfeffer,

None of the Loop1 SWIDs on the survey have Storage Manager licenses associated with them. Does your client have an active Storage Manager install? If so, please have them fill out the survey with their SWID. Thanks!

Level 14

Hi adesola,

Are you looking for the SRM Beta or the STM 5.8 Beta?

Level 14

Would love to see compellent support.

Level 12

Balki 1429,

Hello, you are talking to adesola above who is the Client I was referring to in my post. He would like to be part of the BETA for the STM 5.8 and the new SRM.

Best Regards,

Derik Pfeffer

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services

Level 14

Taking offline.

Level 8

Hi Biggley, Did you get a response to your question on the SRN impact to the Orion DB?

Level 14

I did not -- Balki 1429, any info for gonzaljm and I?

Level 14

Hi jbiggley,

We will have deployment guidelines available at RC/GA timeframe. Overall, we would expect no more impact from SRM than any other native Orion module. 

The NTA comparison is not completely valid, as NTA really needed a completely different database architecture from standard MS SQL. It was not impact to the other modules that was the problem, but more what was the proper model for NTA-like data collection and storage.

Level 8

Thank you

Level 12

Hello,

I wanted to get clarification on EMC support in the initial SRM development. Will it support EMC VMAX storage along with the listed "The EMC VNX Family" from above?

Best Regards,

Derik Pfeffer

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services

Level 11

The term "AppStack" seems to be one major feature for the next product releases.... and it sounds very promising!

I wonder what Solarwinds products will exactly be necessary to use this feature in general?

and there I understand that NPM + SAM + SRM could possibly deliver all necessary data for establishing these complex dependencies into a single "easy to interpret" view...

The virtualization part could be covered with NPM's virtualization capabilities I assume,

so is the Virtualization Manager product a mandatory requirement for using "AppStack" for NPM/SAM customers?

Is it possible to use the Appstack feature in "partial" setups - e.g. NPM and SAM only and it shows network / server and application relations without storage?

Level 14

No. EMC VMAX support is on the roadmap, but not in scope for v1.

Level 14

Hi herwig,

No product is "required" for the AppStack. The feature is pluggable - so if the products you have provide status and dependency information for an entity layer in the stack, it will be represented there. SAM and NPM do have light virtualization support that will show up in the AppStack. VMAN will show information for those same entities plus the virtual storage infrastructure (i.e. Datastore layer). It would be possible to have just SRM+SAM and be able to see the dependency relationships between your applications, physical servers, and storage in the AppStack. You would be missing the virtual storage layer though, so we would not be able to tie together from end-to-end without VMAN for your VMware or Hyper-V infrastructure. Hope that helps!

aLTeReGo has a fantastic blog post explicitly on AppStack that should provide even more context: All New AppStack Environment View and an Opportunity to Earn $100.00 Plus 2000 Thwack Points

Level 17

signed up for this beta last week.  I'm guessing it may be a bit before I hear anything due to the holidays.

Level 12

Balki 1429,

Hello, you are going to support HP 3PAR and Dell Compellent series Storage Arrays in the upcoming release of SRM?

Best Regards,

Derik Pfeffer

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services

Level 14

Hi Greg,

Compellent support is now available in the SRM 6.1 RC.

Level 14

Hi Derik,

EMC Symmetrix VMAX support is now available in the SRM 6.1 RC.

Level 14

Hi Derik,

Both HP 3PAR and Dell Compellent support is now available in the SRM 6.1 RC.

Level 9

I am told the 6.1 RC is out, but I cannot find it. I was pointed at the 6.1 Beta and have it mostly installed when someone told me that RC was avaiable. Can someone help me download it?

Thanks,

-Scott

Level 12

Balki 1429,

Thanks for the update, I will pass this onto my Clients.

Best Regards,

Derik Pfeffer

Loop1 Systems: SolarWinds Training and Professional Services