In prior posts, I’ve described how NetApp OnCommand Insight acts as a control tower for enterprise data and highlighted how it can be used to analyze application workflows and determine whether re-platforming is warranted. This time, we’ll compare the advanced features of OnCommand Insight to Storage Resource Management (SRM) offerings from EMC, HP, IBM, and Veritas.


SRM and Hybrid Cloud

When SRM products first appeared in the 1990s, storage arrays were popping up everywhere, and enterprise data management was becoming increasingly difficult. At that time, the primary goals of SRM were to 1) identify data storage problems before reaching a crisis level, and 2) assign and manage disk quotas for users in order to improve capacity utilization.


However, with advent of SAN and NAS storage networks, virtualized storage, all-flash arrays, and cloud-based services, SRM has evolved far beyond the basic management of early HDD-based storage systems. Today’s SRM products must manage applications that are deployed across on-premises data centers, private clouds, and public clouds scattered around the world. These environments require an advanced SRM model that cares less about physical storage and more about the service levels and costs that must be delivered across diverse storage resources.


Six Key SRM Capabilities for a Hybrid Cloud

The following table illustrates the level of support that various vendors provide for advanced SRM capabilities required to manage storage resources in a typical hybrid cloud environment:


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Now, let’s examine how OnCommand Insight addresses each of these capabilities:


  1. Business-level accountability

Business accountability is the method of calculating the cost of applications utilized by a business or organization, commonly described as “chargeback” and “showback.” The key to accurate cost accounting is to align costs with the actual usage of each application.

Because OnCommand Insight (or any other SRM product for that matter) cannot automatically discover specific business applications or their owners, it utilizes annotations which are added by an administrator to categorize business attributes. Once annotated, OnCommand Insight correlates applications with the hosts and/or virtual servers that are being utilized. This information is used to provide detailed cost accounting reports for storage usage by tiers and applications, and it can also be rolled-up to track utilization and costs by departments, divisions or other organizational levels.


  1. Cloud storage analytics

As enterprises move applications and archival data onto off-premises public and private clouds, it is important for any SRM to provide visibility into all data residing outside the walls of corporate data centers.

When deployed across a common data fabric, OnCommand Insight is able to view and record detailed application statistics, regardless of location. Utilizing NetApp Private Storage for Cloud, Cloud ONTAP, and ONTAP Edge, for instance, permits administrators to view analytics for their cloud-based storage with the same granularity as their on-premises equipment.


  1. End-to-end path correlation

The ability to dynamically map, monitor and analyze the complete data path is necessary in order to reduce unscheduled maintenance, improve efficiency, and enforce compliance of storage level agreements.

OnCommand Insight provides end-to-end visibility of the entire storage service path for physical, virtual, and cloud environments. When bottlenecks occur, or when optimization is needed, end-to-end service path correlation provides the knowledge needed to quickly drill down and perform root cause analysis, regardless of location.


  1. Global policy enforcement

Policy-based management not only reduces administrative overhead, but also helps establish predictable services and reduces wasted resources.

OnCommand Insight enforces policies attached to physical system elements such as a host or storage, and also to logical elements such as Virtual Machines, paths, or network fabrics. These policies help identify out-of-compliance configurations, provide visibility into efficiencies, and highlight reclaimable resources.


  1. Virtual Machine analytics

As enterprise applications become fully virtualized, it is critical to monitor Virtual Machine (VM) analytics at a very detailed level.

With OnCommand Insight, the following data is collected for each VM instance:

  • Which VM is running on which server host?
  • Which hosts are accessing which data volumes?
  • Which VM’s are contending for shared resources?
  • What VM’s are bullying neighboring VM’s performance?
  • What are the active HBA/storage ports for the path and are they balanced?
  • What is the underlying storage and fabric supporting the VM?
  • How is VM capacity allocated and utilized?

Armed with this information, administrators can view and compare performance data related to Hypervisors VM’s, datastores, VMDK’s and backend storage all in a single view and over a selected time. This allows administrator to quickly remediate VM performance issues and make informed decisions for the proper placement of new and/or migrated VMs to resources with suitable headroom.


  1. Agentless data collection

Storage resource data collection has historically been done using “agents”, installed on each host or element in the storage environment. However, a major drawback to agent-based SRM’s is the deployment and maintenance of these agents.

In contrast, OnCommand Insight utilizes a fully “agentless” architecture. In place of agents, standard protocols are used to gather information. OnCommand Insight executes its commands over a standard network connection instead of inside the host or element, eliminating the overhead required with an agent-based approach and enabling near real-time data collection.


Keep Pace with Dynamic Data Storage Environments


Hybrid clouds, server virtualization, and flash-based storage systems have made data storage environments increasingly complex. NetApp OnCommand Insight provides a deep analytical view of application performance metrics, including end-to-end workflow performance, virtual machine performance, and networking infrastructure performance. OnCommand Insight analyzes enterprise applications so that appropriate resources can be assigned across the entire application portfolio.


To learn more about OnCommand Insight and the NetApp vision for a Data Fabric, join us at the annual NetApp Insight conference, or check out this short video clip for a quick overview:



Larry Freeman