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Analysis

Storage Fusion's SRA automates storage health-checks for resellers
Peter Williams By: Peter Williams, Practice Leader - IT Infrastructure Mgmt., Bloor Research
Published: 12th March 2012
Copyright Bloor Research © 2012
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Storage Fusion, a small UK-based storage consultancy, has big ambitions based around a useful piece of software. Storage Resource Analysis (SRA) is a tool that automates discovery and assessment of an enterprise's storage infrastructure. Now it has announced its SRA Consultant Edition, providing a SaaS solution which can be used by systems vendors, resellers or systems integrators (SIs) - around the world.

The software creates a set of reports specifically for storage consultants; these include a new topology view of the complete storage infrastructure, which recognises the installed storage and networking provided by most leading equipment vendors.

Storage Fusion will not directly sell this edition of the software. For resellers, it will typically provide the software under a subscription-based agreement whereby Storage Fusion is paid each time the reseller runs the software at a potential client or existing customer site (or it can buy a bundle of, say, 20 licences at a go). By this means, the reseller can use SRA as a tool to help boost its revenues and gain access to new potential clients.

For instance, it can offer a storage health-check as a service to any business (i.e. whether or not charging for its initial assessment). Equally important is that running the software is non-disruptive and agentless, requiring no hardware or software to be installed on-site. The company says the software will, on average, complete its discovery operation in two hours, the rapid results facilitating a quick ROI.

According to Storage Fusion's operations manager Peter White, "There is always something it finds, whether it's capacity issues, the need to expand tiered storage, thin provisioning reclaiming of storage or virtualisation." So a reseller can use it to demonstrate where an infrastructure change would improve performance and/or capacity and reduce running costs.

White acknowledged that there was no such thing as perfect measurement software but stressed that this was very good - and particularly suited to datacentres holding upwards of 50TB of storage that were notoriously hard to assess by manual means. Conversely, as its pricing relates to the size of the storage infrastructure to be assessed, it will be an especially low cost option for assessing much smaller businesses with straightforward networks.

Storage system vendors would likewise typically run the check for potential or existing customers, especially for those not happy with current system performance, to expose the shortcomings. SIs may use the software as a tool in their armoury to help guide their proposed or actual integration process. The software may also be included within a reseller portal for instance.

Some large vendors who also offer enterprise-level network management may dismiss an approach which (for now at least) largely ignores the server part of the infrastructure. Yet administrators concerned with storage want straightforward and fast answers - with the storage focus meaning that reports may be clearer and more appropriate for them. Equally, the software is vendor-independent in its assessment, so some leading vendors may not always like the results it throws up. (White revealed that one leading storage hardware vendor was already using the software internally.)

Storage Fusion provides some "train the trainer" instruction for the resellers and others to get the most out of the software, and telephone hotline support; so it sees no need to set up its own offices around the world. So its R&D can remain heavily focused on adding feature-functionality to the software. This, White told me, was a major factor in ensuring Storage Fusion would continue to offer superior feature-functionality and stay ahead of any potential competitors.

What is fairly certain is that this approach is far more efficient and productive than using long-established storage resource management (SRM) tools. So there is no obvious reason why White's expectation that SRA Consultant Edition will be carried by vendors, SIs and resellers around the world will not come to pass - giving Storage Fusion a presence in every country in which it develops good partner relations. Its immediate challenge now is to get itself better known to make that happen without overstretching its own resources.

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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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