Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Software Shortcomings

I was invited last week to speak at the first (of hopefully) many HDS User Forums in the UK. The subject was Storage Resource Management and I talked on the subject and my thoughts for about 30 minutes. One slide generated the most interest and I've included it here. It shows some of the issues current SRM products have and which are not really being addressed by software vendors.

A case in point is the installation of Device Manager I performed this week on a virtual domain. HiCommand Device Manager 5.1 is supported on VMware (2.5) however I couldn't get the software to install at all. I tried the previous version which worked fine, so I was confident the Windows 2003 build was OK. HDS pointed me at a new feature I'd not seen before, Data Execution Prevention which is intended to prevent certain types of virus attacks based on buffer overflows. Whilst this solved the problem, it didn't fill me with a great deal of confidence to think Windows judged HDS's software as a virus. With DEP enabled, the installation got further but still eventually failed. On HDS' advice, re-running the installation again worked.

At the forum, HDS presented their SRM roadmap. If it all comes to fruition then I'll be able to do my provisioning, monitoring and other storage management tasks using my Blackberry whilst sipping Pina Colada's on a Carribbean beach. Back in the real world, my concern is that if the existing tools don't even install cleanly, how am I expected to trust a tool which is moving my disks around dynamically in the background?

It's easy for me to target HDS in this instance but all vendors are equally culpable. I think there's a need for vendors to "walk before they can run". Personally, I'd have more trust in a software tool that was 100% reliable than one which offered me lots of new whizzy features. Vendors, get the basics sorted. Get confidence in your tools and build on that. That way I might get to do provisioning from the beach before I'm too old and grey to enjoy it.


Richard Platt said...

Hi Chris. How's it going? I've been banging my head against a brick wall trying to install HiCommand Device Manager on a VM until I saw your post on the subject! I've never heard of DEP before. It would have been nice if Windows had given out some sort of error rather than just killing the install process. Is that what you were finding?

Chris M Evans said...

Hi Richard, yes, Windows just appears to kill the process however if you look in the event log you can see the problem there. I only resolved the issue with a call to HDS. The problem occurs on VM and non-VM installations so its not a virtualisation specific issue. HDS need to sort out their software to run with Wink23!