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Common Agent Standards

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The deployment of multiple tools into a large storage environment does present problems. For example, EMCs ECC product claims to support HDS hardware and it does. However it didn’t support the NSC product correctly until version 5.2 SP4. Keeping the agents up to date for each management product to get it to support all hardware is a nightmare. I haven’t even discussed host issues. Simply having to deploy multiple agents to lots of hosts presents a series of problems; will they be compatible, how much resource will they all demand from the server, how often will they need upgrading, what level of access will be required?

Now the answer would be to have a common set of agents which all products could use. I thought that’s what CIM/SMI was supposed to provide us, but at least 4 years after I read articles from the industry saying the next version of their products would be CIM compatible I still don’t see it. For instance, looking at the ECC example I mentioned above, ECC has Symm, SDM, HDS and NAS agents to manage each of the different components. Why can’t a single agent collect for each and any subsystem?

Hopefully, someone will correct me and point out how wrong I am, however in the meantime, I’d like to say what I want:

  1. A single set of agents for every product. This would also be a single set of hosts agents. None of this proxy agent nonsense where another agent has to sit in the way and manage systems on behalf of the system itself.
  2. A consistent upgrade and support model. All agents should work with all software, however if the wrong version of an agent is installed, then it simply reports back on the data available.
  3. The ability to upgrade any agent to introduce new features without direct dependence on software upgrades.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Tony Pearson

    Chris,
    IBM has chosen this “common agent” approach with IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. It supports not just IBM devices, but also HP, HDS, EMC and others through the SMI-S interface. A single agent handles all functions, and will be the basis of other software products in the future. Already IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager uses this new common agent.

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