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Upgrade TPC to V3.3

TPC, an enterprise-class storage-area network (SAN) management application, has been the go-to workhorse IBM provided to customers in the open-systems space.

Illustration by Rich Lillash

Configuration Analytics and Auditing

A third notable addition released with TPC V3.3 is a new configuration change management and analytics feature designed to allow IT administrators to track, audit, compare and contrast different configurations (see Figure 2). This feature allows customers to automatically or manually detect changes based on user policies and provides at-a-glance views of all topology information complete with pop-outs providing detailed change information. This is designed to allow faster problem isolation and resolution and to reduce potential downtime and outages due to configuration changes.

"This is to help the storage administrators keep track of and enforce policy-based configurations within their business," says Griese. "TPC provides a number of what we consider best-practices policies for configuring a SAN, and we've gotten these best practices from a lot of the services people, field technical support specialists and advanced technical services professionals within IBM who know what works in a fabric and what doesn't. So we've encoded these best practices into TPC and users can select which particular metrics or rules they would like enforced in their SAN."

Based on those best-practices policies and the resulting chosen metrics/rules, TPC configuration analytics offers new monitoring and notification features designed to provide configuration validation, and the resulting analysis can be applied to all fabrics, a single fabric or a single zone set.

The configuration-auditing component of the analytics can be utilized to easily identify policy violators who are flagged and displayed in the topology viewer. In the event of possible security concerns, IT administrators are notified of zone-security violations and there are many alert notifications including SNMP traps, tech events and e-mail.

In addition to all the top-tier innovations to TPC V3.3 so far outlined, a multitude of smaller innovations and tweaks have been added to make for improved ease-of-use and more accessible functionality. Such tweaks include the ability to right-click for more information and persistent pinning, which allows IT administrators to identify a set of resources that may be of significant interest and establish individual (or favorite) groups.

Convenient and easy-to-access context-sensitive information of storage assets and alert logs through a simple right-click of the mouse is a significant tweak customers will no doubt find useful. For example, customers may be looking at the topology viewer and there's a particular storage device on which they'd like to generate a report; in earlier versions of TPC, they'd have to go over to the navigation pane on the left-hand side, scroll down to the disk manager and then start opening up the tree to get down to the specific report they wanted to run.

"Now, with this right-click access, you can call up all the reports that make sense for that particular device and run them directly so you don't have to do all that navigation," says Griese. "It's a great way to save time, and you don't lose track of what you were trying to do."

With a Cherry on Top

According to Griese, it's important for new and established customers to understand TPC isn't limited to IBM storage devices. TPC uses an industry standard - the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMIS), which was created by the Storage Networking Industry Association - to communicate with storage systems. TPC uses agents that conform to SMIS guidelines to collect information about whatever storage devices it can find.

"TPC provides performance and management information across all the devices that conform to the SMIS standards, so we can manage EMC symmetric devices or HDS or HP devices as long as they support those standards as well," says Griese. "If you have a bunch of System p* devices that are attached to non-IBM storage, you can still use TPC to manage all that, and that includes non-IBM file systems or databases."

Additionally, TPC V3.3 touts updated support for Red Hat Linux* Enterprise V4 for IBM TPC server and agents, the Solaris 10 fabric agent, the IBM TS3310 tape library, the IBM DS4000* series, the McData i10k director-class switch and Data Agent for VMware ESX3.0.

"We are very excited about this TPC release," says Griese. "We tried to incorporate as much customer feedback as we could to make it more functional and, most importantly, scalable."

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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