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Management Consistency

Chuck’s blog about user interfaces made me review what my team has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

From IBM, we have three different interfaces; one for the DDN-based arrays, one for the LSI-based arrays and one for NetApp filer-based arrays. Of these, arguably the filer-based tools are the most mature and featured but the DS Manager for the LSI-based arrays is not horrible and works pretty well. The DDN management tools are possibly the worst I’ve come across in years and it does not help that they tend to use a completely different terminology to everyone else.

From EMC, we have Unisphere for the Clariions; this is a major improvement on their previous offerings. We also have Isilon which has a pretty nice Web GUI.

And for BackUp and Archive, we have both TSM and NetBackUp. TSM’s CLI is great and very powerful; the GUI is horrible and you would not really want to use it; whereas NetBackUp’s GUI is good and there is not a huge reason to use the CLI unless you are some kind of CLI junkie or need to write custom reporting scripts.

So on a daily basis, the guys are coping with seven different interfaces for Storage/BackUp; I must be forgetting something…oh yes, we have both Brocade and Cisco SAN switches, so that’s up to nine.

And that’s before we start dealing with clustered file-systems and the like. We could certainly do with some kind of umbrella tool but we are resigned to the fact that we are never really going to get one.

One thing which would make life easier would be for the various vendors to agree terminology and at least remove the need for a Rosetta Stone. Product differentiation by terminology is not the best way to go.

I don’t think we have a favourite tool though; we just have those which we tolerate more than others. Things I would like to see improved though are

  • Fully scriptable CLIs; DDN, I am looking at you here
  • Consistency in command syntax and modifier order.
  • GUIs should be fully functional and you be able to do everything from the GUI or the CLI. It would be nice if we had an ‘F6’ SMIT-type function which reveals the underlying  command being run from the GUI; it can then be captured and used in scripts
  • No Windows only management tools; do it via the Web GUI. Look at IBM’s XIV and SVC interfaces for best of breed; with EMC’s Unisphere running them close.

I’m sure people have their own ideas and please note this is just the basic configuration/management tools; I have a whole different bunch of requirements for reporting tools.

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