Product Reviews

From Chaos to Control: StorageCeNTral 4.1

Is poor data storage management putting you through "network hell?" Perhaps a software-based storage management solution can save you.

StorageCeNTral is the most refined of the storage-management products reviewed here. Actually, it’s a package that combines two products: QuotaAdvisor and DiskAdvisor. These products, also available separately, integrate well; both appear as child windows within the StorageCeNTral application. StorageCeNTral also incorporates trend-analysis features.

Like Quota Server, StorageCeNTral monitors disk space usage and can take several actions if a threshold is reached. By far, StorageCeNTral is the most flexible of the three products reviewed in this article. It can send emails, trigger SNMP alerts, add events to event logs, execute commands and run reports. The SNMP alerts are particularly useful for those who use a network management tool. StorageCeNTral’s event logging is more useful than that provided by Win2K, Quota Server, or SpaceGuard, as it provides for logging to a central event log server. This way, you can have all your network servers add events to a central server, making it easier for you to parse.

I also found that StorageCeNTral has excellent integration into Win2K. From the standard Explorer interface, you can right-click on a directory and choose Set Quota. This brings up a wizard-like dialog that helps you set thresholds and alerts. There’s also support for Microsoft Cluster Servers, though I didn’t have the luxury of testing that aspect of the product. The extra level of integration goes a long way and helps make StorageCeNTral my favorite product of the three reviewed in this article.

Still, nothing is perfect, and StorageCeNTral has its share of flaws. The help files tell nothing more than how to use the user interface, with ridiculous phrases such as, “Choose ‘Send to Event Log’ if you want to send the message to the event log.” The included manuals are only slightly more helpful. But fortunately, StorageCeNTral is reasonably intuitive; administrators with a good understanding of storage management concepts should feel comfortable with the product after about an hour of use.

Reports, as shown in the figure, are simple and informative with StorageCeNTral. They can be exported into delimited text, HTML, and DBF formats. But they cannot be delivered directly into an ODBC database like Quota Server can do.

WQuinn StorageCeNTral
StorageCeNTral’s Space Monitor gives you a bird’s-eye view of your network storage utilization. (Click image to see larger version.)

As I stated earlier, StorageCeNTral is the most refined of the products reviewed in this piece, and, yes, it’s also the most expensive. But if you’re serious about storage management on your Win2K servers, download the free trial version from the WQuinn Web site and see if it fits your needs.

About the Author

Tony Northrup, MCSE, Compaq ASE, lives in the Boston area and is currently a systems architect at Genuity. He’s the author of Introducing Windows 2000 Server (Microsoft Press) and NT Network Plumbing (IDG Books), and co-author of Networking Essentials Unleashed (SAMS Publishing).

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