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Address Hybrid Cloud Storage Management Priorities With IBM Hyper-Scale Manager

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User-Centric Administration Is Needed in Hybrid Cloud Storage

As organizations continue to evolve to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, it's no longer just the storage administrator who needs access to the storage device. The lines are blurring between storage, database and systems administrators; and each will need to know more about their respective areas – and more. For example, when we look at converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, as hardware and management become more tightly packaged, the typical storage administrator will have to understand more about the virtualization and applications above the storage.

A very powerful role access and privileges mechanism has been built into the Hyper-Scale Manager to protect data and accommodate the reality of working in a hybrid cloud environment. Specifically, IBM defined 11 predefined user categories for XIV and Spectrum Accelerate. Six of those categories allow multiple users to adopt these privileges, and an additional five categories are primarily specialist or IBM Technical Support roles. The first six user categories have different management privileges, depending on the category selected. IBM defined eight categories for A9000; four that allow multiple users, and four support roles. This differentiates between the advanced privileges needed for storage administrators and more basic privileges for other types of administrators less familiar with storage. Most user interfaces simply offer global access and privileges, which allows any user to perform tasks outside their sphere of operation.

IBM Hyper-Scale Manager users actually adopt their roles and rights from the particular device (Spectrum Accelerate, XIV or A9000). For example, when a user is logged into the Hyper-Scale Manager and selects a particular system to perform a task, the Hyper-Scale Manager compares the system and the role, and then presents the appropriate UI and rights.

Spectrum Accelerate users are listed as: storage admin, application admin, read only, security admin, storage integration admin and operations admin. The technical support roles are: technician, xiv_development, xiv_maintenance, xiv-hostprofiler and hsa_client. A9000 has fewer but similar roles defined.

From the User's pane we can use the control bubble to add a new user (see Figure 2).

The bubble is replaced with the Hub related to ‘Add User.’ In this case, the Hub displays links that apply to adding a new user role (system and user group). From the category pulldown we can select one of the User roles just described (see Figure 3).

When assigning access to the storage device, the storage administrator assigns a role based on the particular user’s needs.

It’s worth noting that most other storage vendors have not developed a role based management strategy and simply implement user ID access control. This means users could have storage control rights above their operations role and skill set, which introduces significant risk of error or inadvertent action impacting the infrastructure.

Task-Oriented Workspace Customization Aids Productivity in Hybrid Clouds

Once you have role-based access, the next design point is to acknowledge that these users will have different habits and task flows. Allowing the user to customize their workspace further enhances their productivity. For example, application administrator tasks will often revolve around copy and snapshot management. Their dashboard can have tabs that focus on these tasks.

Most storage management UIs follow a standard directory tree structure layout. This forces users to navigate up and down a static route to a task, and frequently track in and out of different areas of the UI to find information related to the task they want to perform. This approach has caused many admins to continue to use the Command Line Interface access method if available. This allows users to build a stock of text-based scripts to perform direct access to particular tasks or information, and saves many clicks up and down the User Interface access tree. The challenge with script-based tasks is that they require deep knowledge of the task syntax and are fraught with the possibility for errors.

Let me show you an example of running a task with the simplicity and information richness of the new Hyperscale Manager UI. If we want to perform a simple add volume, it may sound easy. But any volume has a potential for many characteristics and options; gathering and applying this detail can take a lot of time.

Even though adding a new volume is a pretty mundane task, doing so often involves choosing many options and properties. The new UI simplifies this task such that a novice could create new volumes easily. Once the user opts to create a new volume (see Figure 4), input fields for “Create Volume” and the Hub is displayed.

Once the volume is created, the branches of the Hub become live links and contain all possible characteristics of a volume in one simple view. You can allocate any of the characteristics remaining in the current volumes view to finish implementing the new volume (see Figure 5).

One of the first tasks round the Hub is “Mapping.” This option is used to associate the volume with a host or cluster. Clicking the “Add” bubble will open an input dialogue below the Hub to complete the mapping. During the volume creation you remain in the same active pane, unlike old style UIs where you would be constantly backing in and out of different panes to perform each property task.

This is just one example of the simplicity and information richness delivered by the new Hyper-Scale Manager UI. It has a significant contribution to administrative efficiency and policy driven automation at any scale. Ease of use and efficiency add even more weight to the subject of our first interview, the growing need for consistency in performance from storage infrastructure on-premise and in the cloud.

The Spectrum Accelerate family excels thanks to its grid-based architecture and the MicroLatency of IBM FlashSystems. Combine the new UI with its native architecture, and you have a recipe for hybrid cloud storage success.

Nick Harris is the Storage Lead in the IBM Competitive Project Office.

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