Well, do yourself a favor and check out the new EMC ProSphere release. Much like a good big screen TV, the just announced new ProSphere gives you a big, clear, and precise picture of your data center storage environment.
No longer do you have to contend with what would be analogous to the low pixel count and low scan rate of your cathode tube television or first-generation flat screen.
Move up to the sharper image of this new storage management software release.
The new ProSphere provides deeper dives than the initial release into FAST VP to track, manage, analyze, and predict your storage consumption. Similarly, it reaches further into the server environment to capture information pertaining to usage that might impact your storage needs.
More of a Good Thing
EMC ProSphere is storage management purpose-built for cloud deployments and virtual environments. ProSphere enables administrators to visualize, analyze, and optimize their data center storage.
When I blogged about ProSphere a few months back, I discussed some of the challenges organizations face trying to gain control of exploding data and storage growth, and how ProSphere helps address these challenges. Well, the challenges may not have gone away, but the solution has gotten better.
Oversee Your Domain
How can you optimize what you don’t understand?
Well, you can’t. That’s what makes the capabilities in the new ProSphere release so compelling.
There’s a new dashboard and operator console, and exploration feature that sum up storage activity in a single view and provide the ability to drill down further into your storage environment, including your new and legacy EMC Symmetrix, VNX, and CLARiiON arrays.
Look Over the Dashboard
The new release presents information to you in intuitive chunks called viewblocks for proactively monitoring storage capacity use and service levels. You can see what you have for total storage (raw capacity), what is being consumed (used capacity by purpose – primary storage, replicas, overhead), and what is available (usable capacity by pools, service levels, day of the week).
Not only do you know your available and consumed capacity, but you can track it over time. This capability includes viewing and trending by storage pool which gives you new insights into FAST VP environments for better data placement and capacity planning. Use this information to estimate your future capacity needs and make better spending decisions.
For example, the cost per GB for disk drives has typically fallen 20% – 30% per year. But, flooding in Thailand has impacted disk drive production facilities creating an increase in disk drive prices in recent months.
While prices should get back to normal as production resumes, you could end up spending more money if you don’t plan your purchases shrewdly. You could buy too much SATA instead of Flash, and at higher prices.
Having the tools that help you more accurately predict when you will need more capacity helps you save money.
There’s also a nifty Explore function that enables you to quickly filter your view of assets based on characteristics you define.
It contains a list of all the attributes contained in ProSphere with filters similar to Excel.
For example, you could use the Explore function if wanted to find all unused, thinly provisioned LUNs, on a specific array, with say between 10GB and 20GB.
Know your capacity, improve your utilization.
Dig Deep Into Your Storage
The ProSphere Operations Console provides a single pane of glass for monitoring your storage environment. Now, you can aggregate performance alerts from Symmetrix Performance Analyzer, along with availability, configuration, and capacity threshold alerts from the EMC SMI-S providers for EMC Symmetrix family, CLARiiON, and VNX arrays.
This capability helps you monitor your environment to identify situations that require attention and drill down to see a topology view for a better understanding of the infrastructure dependencies for these alerts.
The single-pane-of-glass enables you to set policies (e.g. bronze, silver, and gold) and helps you meet your service levels as your environment grows and make greater use of technologies like VMware and FAST VP.
Enhancements to the REST interface also make it easier to share the new capacity and alerting data with internally developed or third-party apps.
Look Into Your Server Environment
Deploying and managing host agents weren’t too bad when you had only tens or even a couple of hundred servers in your environment. But, as the size of data centers grew, deploying and managing host agents just became too difficult. That is why agentless discovery has become a critical requirement for managing today’s larger, more complex environments.
The initial iteration of ProSphere introduced active agent-less discovery to provide a comprehensive view of the physical and virtual infrastructure.
The active agent-less discovery uses WMI, SSH, SMI-S, and the VMware API to pull rich information from host servers, SAN switches, and arrays. The new release adds support for WS-MAN which simplifies setup and overhead in discovery of Windows environments.
But, the real benefit of ProSphere active agent-less discovery is the deep analysis it can perform on the server-side to give you a better understanding of the impact of operating system version, multipathing solution, and CPU count, type, and speed on storage performance.
The ProSphere implementation also provides trend analysis for key performance indicators for the host operating system such as I/O response time and throughput, CPU utilization, and queue length. This provides a server perspective of how your storage is performing in both physical and virtual environments.
While useful in traditional storage environments, this information becomes even more important once you start to use technologies like FAST VP to offer tiers of service based on application price/ performance requirements.
This deep analysis tracks the impact of FAST polices at the server level and provides information helpful in determining whether or not a more cost effective or higher performance service level should be applied.
See the Big Picture
ProSphere not only busts out of the silo mentality to span the data center and work up and down the stack, it also eliminates the need for many point solutions. Just as, or maybe even more importantly, it also expands the storage administrators reach and skill set and reduces training costs.
ProSphere might be termed storage management but the view it provides meets the comprehensive compute, network, and storage needs we often talk about. It keeps with the theme I’ve been hitting on here about technologies that provide solutions from server to network to LUN.
Get an edge. Check out the new ProSphere release for yourself, and get better views into your storage environment.