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Data Center Transformation, Part 7: Application Transparency

by Hu Yoshida on Aug 24, 2010

As I have stated in my previous posts on data center transformation, virtualization plays an important role in creating a dynamic pool of server and storage resources and masking the physical infrastructure from the application, so that the provisioning, movement, and refresh of the infrastructure can be done without disruption to the business. While we are masking the physical resources, however, we still need to provide the applications with transparency into the virtual infrastructure to ensure that their service level objectives are being met. Transparency requires openness, communication and accountability.

Hitachi’s Solution to Application Transparency

The Hitachi Storage Command suite provides an integrated set of management modules that culminates in a Hitachi Command Portal, which provides an application with a dashboard view of the storage infrastructure that sits behind the virtualization. This enables the application to communicate with the infrastructure managers, and provides accountability of the service level objectives to the application.

Hitachi Storage Command Suite

The Hitachi Storage Command Suite starts from the bottom up with a Device Manager, which provides a deep dive view into the Hitachi Storage products. There is also an optional Global Link Manager that provides monitoring and control of all the alternate paths to all the systems under Hitachi Storage Command management. This enables the management of alternate paths for multiple storage systems from one console.

Across the top of these two modules is a resource monitoring tool called Tuning Manager that works with the Device Manager and Link Manager to monitor the activity of the system and provide reports and alerts for any out-of-boundary conditions.

Tuning Manager can provide alerts and information to a tiering and migration manager (Hitachi Tiered Storage Manager), to a Policy Based Tiered Storage Management service, or to a policy manager for automating application backups with storage system-based replication (Hitachi Replication Manager).

Hitachi Command Portal

Up to this point all these modules provide information and management for the storage infrastructure. Across the top of all these modules, Hitachi provides a Command Portal which provides a business or application view into this infrastructure.

Hitachi Command Portal

This portal presents a dashboard for a business unit or application which shows them four basic panels of information. The first is the status of its Service Level Objective during a selected period, whether it is red, yellow or green, based upon specified thresholds. Second is the actual storage allocation in terms of LUNs, Subsystem id, physical disks, RAID type, and actual allocation. Third is a panel that shows the health of its storage subsystem array groups and port processors over a selected period, whether it is red, yellow, green. The last panel shows the storage allocation over a specified time period for planning purposes.

This dashboard is a portal that enables the user to dive into the infrastructure modules that support it and produce any number of reports. The presentation is through Adobe Flex, which enables movement of screens and drill down.

Summary

While application users may be relieved to be isolated from the infrastructure turmoil that accompanies any form of transformation, they still have the responsibility to ensure that they are meeting their business objectives. In order for the application user to fulfill his obligations to the business, he or she must have transparency into the infrastructure, even though it is virtualized or moved behind a cloud. Management tools like the Hitachi Storage Command Suite will provide that transparency for openness, communication, and accountability.

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[...] part 7, I highlighted our Hitachi Storage Command portal which enables applications to see into our [...]

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