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Ft. Knox goes for outsider's SRM tool

Beth Pariseau, News Writer

The U.S. Army's recruitment headquarters at Ft. Knox, Ky., recently completed in-house testing and bought a storage resource management (SRM) tool from Northern Parklife despite being a Hewlett-Packard Co.

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(HP) shop for both servers and storage. Ft. Knox evaluated HP's AppIQ Inc. product but found it too costly to implement and lacking support for its clustered Windows file servers.

"We have 54 distributed offices around the country, as well as our infrastructure here at headquarters," said Ft. Knox network administrator Kim Jackson. "We needed to implement an SRM tool because people were taking advantage of the storage to store .JPEGs, .MP3s and other files that didn't belong there. We wanted to restrict storage space for each user and eliminate certain file types."

Jackson said he evaluated AppIQ and had a product demonstration earlier this year. But, he said, he was told he would have to attach new hardware for the AppIQ product and buy a new switch to support AppIQ's attachment to his 24 terabyte EVA 5000 SAN.

"The costs would have been in the thousands of dollars," he said. "We just wanted to stick with our existing infrastructure."

Even that became moot, he said, because AppIQ at the time would not support his two three-node Windows Distributed File Systems (DFS) clusters running on HP ProLiant 580 servers.

"They couldn't support setting quotas on shares of the clustered file system," Jackson said. "Actually, there weren't many [products] out there who could do a cluster-aware setup."

The Northern Storage Suite SRM tool, which is installed locally on each Windows server, allows the Army's recruitment headquarters to set quotas on the thousands of users spread out over their campus and the 54 recruitment branch offices across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico, as well as monitor each branch office's local servers with DAS on HP ProLiant 370 servers.

"We can keep track of them better from our headquarter's location now," Jackson said. "We don't have as much inappropriate data cluttering up storage either, at headquarters or in the branch offices."

Jackson is still waiting for Northern to add the ability to set storage quotas for groups, as well as for individual users, something he said they had promised within the next 90 days.

"That's key for us," he said. "Instead of having to allocate by individual user, we could parse out our storage more efficiently according to different departmental groups. We're always looking for ways to be even more constrictive controlling our data."

AppIQ does offer this functionality, but it's not supported on Windows DFS clusters.

HP responded over e-mail to this story: "As we know it, Northern is a niche player in Gartner's latest SRM magic quadrant and has them ranking at the bottom of the list in completeness of vision." The statement continued, "They [Northern] have built Windows-specific management tools for many years, and their offering is a Windows-only quota management and host-based disk reporting tool. Their utility monitors and reports on Windows server storage only and enforces user quotas, and it's not entirely accurate that Northern was chosen over HP/AppIQ because as we see it, Northern doesn't really compete against HP Storage Essentials."