High ground storage scales

The latest version of HighGround Systems Inc.'s NT enterprise storage manager uses Microsoft's SQL Server database as its central store, making it more scalable.

Past versions of the product relied on Microsoft's Access database which wasn't robust enough for some users, said Tom Rose, HighGround's vice-president of marketing.

"People were saying, 'We love your product, but come back to us when you have a more scalable edition based on SQL Server.'"Called Storage Resource Manager 3.0 Enterprise Edition, the new version can track the consumption and availability of disk space across hundreds of NT servers.

Network managers can set alerts and thresholds to let them know when a disk has reached a particular usage point. And because managers can track storage on a user ID basis across the enterprise, creative storage hogs can't cheat the system by copying their files on multiple servers in different network partitions.

This feature appeals to Helen Flanagan, a senior NT administrator for US office supplies giant Staples. Flanagan's charges include 120 NT 3.51 and 4.0 servers and 3,000 Windows 98 clients.

"I can now see the 50 largest files on my network," she said. "Talk about finding your heavy hitters easily. It's a beautiful thing."

Most of the wish-list items Flanagan had flagged for inclusion in the new version of the enterprise storage manager are in Version 3.0, she noted.

"Now that it uses SQL, it's faster, it stores more. We can keep a whole year if we want and do some trend analysis for capacity planning and the alerts are good."

The storage manager, which can be accessed from any workstation, can create reports using historical data, allowing network managers to predict how much storage space will be required down the road.

Future enhancements to HighGround's storage manager will include porting it to Unix and NetWare environments in the second half of 1999 and adding support for tape drives and optical libraries.

Products such as HighGround's storage manager are needed, Rose said, because enterprise NT networks are widely distributed and don't have well-maintained storage like mainframe-based networks do.

IT staffers often don't know how much storage space is available across an enterprise, how much storage will be available in the future and how much storage is old and never used.

"Studies show that over half of a company's files are not accessed for over six months," Rose said. "Those files could be deleted or archived."

David Hill, a senior analyst with the Aberdeen Group in Boston, said HighGround's new storage manager is a solid product.

"It's using SQL Server, so it can scale to a larger number of servers," he said. "The old version didn't provide that kind of scalability."

Hill believes more and more companies are becoming aware of the importance of centralized storage management control.

"It's embarrassing to an enterprise if it doesn't know basic information about what it's doing," he said. "You want to be able to plan your future growth so it's nice to know where your servers are and how much storage there is and it's nice to be able to balance it out."