Understanding which applications will take a hit if something happens to one of your arrays is pretty easy if you only have one or two arrays and a half dozen applications running. The situation gets a lot more complex in large IT establishments that may be running dozens of apps on hundreds of servers, and where storage resources may be spread out over half a continent.
I have previously suggested there is a need for a tool that shows exactly which business processes are impacted when a particular IT asset goes down. I am looking for something simple. If a filer goes down or I lose an array, I want to see all affected business processes go red on my display console as well. Eventually of course, I'd like to see this tool be part of a management system that preempts the problem - that is, it preempts the business problem. Someday it should have predictive capacity so that it can reach out to a management tool before a failing IT asset hinders a business process, but I'll settle for something that can walk now if it has a chance to run later.
Right now, I just want to know what's going on, and if an IT problem is going to play havoc with my business.
It should be easy to cobble together something that works well in a limited set of circumstances - a hard-wired "ad hoc" tool. But I have been looking for something that might help me put together a generalized solution. A tool - not necessarily a complete solution, mind you - just a tool that might help users, consultants, or channel partners build useful solutions that would help IT managers understand the exact impact on businesses if an array were to go offline or a server went south.
I haven't found much that would fill the bill among the current crop of storage software, but sometimes, if you look in the strangest places...
At some point in the next few weeks, HP is releasing a package called OpenView Business Process Insight. I saw a demo copy of it a few days ago and guess what - unbeknownst to the folks at HP, they have put together something that seems to fill the bill.
HP thinks it's a business app, of course. I saw a demo that showed flight arrivals and departures at Heathrow Airport in real time, apparently by scraping data off either the Heathrow or the airline sites. It collected the data, smoothed it, ran it through some analysis, and output a graphical display not too far off from what I had in mind for my project.
I checked with the guys who know the underside of this tool and, sure enough, it's designed so that its back-end processing doesn't care what sort of data goes through it. SMI-S or SNMP traps would do just fine.
If I were an HP value-added reseller selling storage, I'd look into this product even though it doesn't come out of the storage group. After all, with a few hours of programming and integration effort some reseller will probably wind up with an extremely useful mechanism for pulling together in a single console much of the infrastructure and business data that his client needs to understand.