IT Infrastructure Insights

Managing A Mixed Storage Infrastructure

Aug 27, 2021

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There are lots of storage manufacturers in the market – and just about all of them have dedicated tools for managing their storage. These vendor-specific tools usually supply necessary utilization, performance, and health and information.

How many data centers, however, use only one storage manufacturer?

Vendor-specific tools are exactly that: specific to the vendor. They apply only to the particular storage system or manufacturer they are sold with. They show “vendor-down” views, meaning the supplied information is selected based on what the vendor feels you need to see about their system.

The problem is that the average Visual Storage Intelligence client has over seven storage platforms representing three or more different manufacturers. A mixed storage environment not only makes storage management difficult, it makes vendor-specific tools nearly useless.

Not Quite Bridging the Gap

Multi-vendor storage infrastructures are not a new phenomenon. In fact, the number of storage vendors in data centers is on the rise. Years ago, most of the major storage vendors started initiatives hoping to support each other’s products. Some vendors developed a multi-management software solution organically, but most purchased a software vendor that specialized in multi-vendor storage management.

It wasn’t long, however, before the original developers of the software left the large companies as soon as they could. Most of the solutions have languished since then.

As a result, most storage resource management tools are expensive, difficult to deploy, and complex to operate on a day-to-day basis. Their complexity often requires an army of consultants to overcome the implementation challenge and then typically a full headcount to administer across manufacturers.

Putting the Burden Back on Businesses

In reality, storage vendors didn’t have their “heart” in making competitors’ products easier to use or manage. Most of these products turned into “shelfware,” while Excel spreadsheets became the storage management tool of choice.

Excel may be an inexpensive tool; but it too is very labor-intensive. It’s a tool for financial modeling that is being re-purposed for storage management databases. Using Excel forces the storage administrator to manually pull the data from their storage platforms into Excel. Then, because each platform provides data differently, they have to scrub and format the data into a standard format and terminology. This process is very time consuming and error-prone – which suddenly makes an inexpensive tool costly.

Take the example of one VSI client who used the Excel approach to storage management. In reviewing their data, we discovered that they were placing usable space in the wrong spreadsheet column, leading the customer to believe they had more free space than was true. The erroneous reporting hadn’t been a problem at first – until they started reaching capacity limits without warning.

A False Binary

Vendor-provided storage management tools in heterogenous storage environments? Or manually designed and maintained spreadsheets? These are the two prevalent options for multi-vendor environments, and neither get the job done efficiently.

That’s why Visual Storage Intelligence exists. We saw a gap between these two approaches that could be filled with a cost-effective, simple-to-use solution. Visual Storage Intelligence (VSI) focuses on providing a single-pane-of-glass view across all storage systems, including virtual environments, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), backup solutions, and more.

Our process is simple; VSI collects data from each storage platform using a standard agentless method. We then parse the data for you into easy-to-digest formats, before presenting the data through consolidated views in your client dashboard and through regular email updates.

What’s the result for your IT team? Data-based decisions that improve your efficiency and reduce costs – all while saving time and spending less on your infrastructure reporting.

Want to see how easy it would be in your environment? Let us know – we would love to show you around!