This month marks 10 years since IBM introduced its ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager (ADSM) product as one of the first enterprise storage management solutions to go beyond simple backup, archive, and recovery capabilities. Interestingly, this product was hatched in an IBM lab not as a product for customers but as a tool for software engineers to centrally back up their data from multiple systems. ADSM eventually became Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) after IBM acquired Tivoli in 1996, and TSM has since become one of the most widely used enterprise storage management products on the market.
Anniversaries are always a good time to pause and look back to the beginning, benchmark the present, and take a peek into the future, which how this column will celebrate TSM's tenth birthday.
So, let's kick off the party by first looking at some surprising enterprise storage facts. Storage is the single largest line item in most large IT budgets when all of the costs of hardware, software, and management are considered--despite the less-than-surprising fact that the cost per MB continues to plummet. The high cost of storage can be attributed to two factors: 1) the escalating storage needs required by enterprises--according to IBM, storage managers are increasing capacity at 50 to 100% per year--and 2) the cost of managing this huge and rapidly growing storage resource--some studies put the cost of managing storage at 5 to 7 times the cost of the storage itself!
Of the two reasons just cited, enterprise storage management software typically has the greatest impact on the latter. Sure, storage management products can help you use disk and tape more effectively, control what goes to and stays on disk and tape, and perhaps slow down the need to add more storage, but the real edge comes from reducing the costs associated with managing the storage.
ADSM made its debut in 1993 and provided some unique features via its built-in relational database. These features allowed shops to more centrally and intelligently manage backup, archive, and recovery tasks. For instance, data could be backed up into disk storage pools and then migrated--according to policy--to removable media. As time progressed, user interfaces were enhanced, performance and server-to-server communications were improved, and integration with systems management applications was provided. Eventually, IBM acquired Tivoli, whose suite of system management solutions gradually expanded to finally include IBM's ADSM in 1999, and the product became Tivoli Storage Manager, which offered a host of other features, including LAN-free archive and restore as well as significantly improved performance and usability.
To effectively utilize the storage that resides across heterogeneous systems, storage management software is a critical requirement, and products like TSM are continuing to offer the features that enterprises require. IBM considers TSM to be the leader in enterprise storage management solutions, and much of the credit still goes to its unique relational database, giving TSM, among other things, more flexibility, smarter use of backup media, and a wider range of supported devices (650+ at last count). It also gives TSM its hierarchical storage management (HSM) features, which take user-defined policies to prioritize what data gets backed up and where. Once these policies are set, they can be automatically executed by the system to not only reduce the time to backup, but significantly reduce the time to restore.
Policy-based functions also allow specific objects to be identified automatically for backup when predefined conditions occur (e.g., the object changes). In addition, they allow administrators to specify the number of backed up versions to keep. And because its relational database tracks what was backed up and when, TSM reduces the need for full system backups through its "progressive incremental backup" technology, which backs up objects only when they are added or changed. TSM can even take this a step further through its patented "differential backup" capability, which backs up only the portion of the object that has changed, although the technology is normally used to back up mobile users over WAN or a slower LAN because of the high amount of overhead needed to restore the data. For example, if a user changes a paragraph in a word processing document, only that portion of the file is backed up.
TSM also includes disaster recovery functions that allow system administrators to generate reports that provide a step-by-step process for recovering data after a disaster. The reports will detail information such as what tapes are needed, where the off-site recovery site is, what type of hardware is needed, and other information that's critical to getting a data center up and running smoothly.
Of note to enterprises with iSeries servers: There is a reduction in the data transfer rate when backups of iSeries objects are made with TSM. IBM indicates, however, that this problem has become less of an issue in recent releases. Despite this, TSM is the only enterprise storage management product in the marketplace that does support iSeries. By the way, TSM is included with the Enterprise Edition of the iSeries with licenses for five clients. Keep in mind that IBM's Backup, Recovery and Media Services (BRMS) is likely to be the best storage management choice for shops that are primarily iSeries.
Tivoli Storage Resource Manager and SAN Manager
TSM is actually just one of several Tivoli storage products, although it's certainly the cornerstone. IBM also offers Tivoli Storage Resource Manager (TSRM) and Tivoli SAN Manager, both of which became available in October of last year.
Briefly, TSRM is a Java-based solution that includes a set of policy-driven tools for managing storage capacity, storage availability, and storage events throughout an enterprise. The tool brings together several functions, including the following:
- Discovery allows precise examination of how storage is used throughout the enterprise, often enabling companies to identify and reclaim significant amounts of wasted and unused space.
- Provisioning extends the file system without downtime or user intervention by automatically allocating additional storage when a capacity threshold is reached.
- Autonomic functions provide the ability to prevent or resolve problems, based on information recorded from previous events
- Extensive reporting capabilities enable managers to do smarter capacity planning and create better storage policies
Unfortunately, TSRM does not currently support iSeries machines--because of the proprietary single-level storage architecture--and, according to IBM, there are no current plans for such support down the road.
Tivoli SAN Manager--another separately sold module--can be added to the storage management mix to better manage an entire SAN, including both devices and other components (host bus adapters, switches, etc.), and do so in real time. The product uses open standards and includes extensive error detection and fault isolation. SAN Manager has predictive fault analysis capabilities that monitor and track the environmental variables that precede problems. Operators are alerted when the same conditions appear again.
iSeries servers are supported with SAN Manager via "outband" discovery.
The Future of Storage Management
Before we blow out the candles on our TSM birthday cake, let's gaze for a minute into the storage management crystal ball. According to experts--both inside and outside of IBM--many of the enhancements that are likely to appear in coming years will be geared toward increasing and improving the most critical capabilities of storage management software, particularly interoperability, ease of use, autonomics, and on-demand functions.
It is likely that TSM will integrate more closely with the entire Tivoli suite of system management tools (as well as other non-IBM tools) to create more tightly knit enterprise-wide monitoring and reporting functions. However, it appears that the priority is to further improve and expand ease-of-use features. Of course, ease-of-use capabilities often come from policy-based and other autonomic features, which will almost certainly expand because of IBM's autonomic initiatives across all of its products.
Finally, there's IBM's very visible "computing on demand" initiative, the benefits of which are liable to apply more and more to the storage arena. Along this line, "virtualization" capabilities are coming down the pipe, which allow allocating quantities of storage capacity from designated storage pools without the need to commit the full resource up front. Because of this and other upcoming innovations, storage management software will help IT managers to do some pretty amazing things in regards to how storage is obtained, allocated, and utilized.
Happy birthday, Tivoli Storage Management!