W H I T E P A P E R T h e I m p a c t o f A u t o S u p p o r t: Leveraging Advanced Remote and Automated Support

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1 W H I T E P A P E R T h e I m p a c t o f A u t o S u p p o r t: Leveraging Advanced Remote and Automated Support Sponsored by: NetApp Brad Nisbet December 2008 Matt Healey IDC OPINION Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA USA P F Today, enterprises of all sizes generate an unprecedented amount of business data. Increasingly, the success of these organizations relies directly on the value, accuracy, and availability of this data. To optimize and maintain system availability and performance, organizations have begun to leverage advanced remote and automated support tools to maximize the investment in their network storage solutions. Effective support tools enable organizations to:! Increase business continuity by predicting and resolving system events, which helps maintain infrastructure and application uptime.! Manage system configurations proactively to accommodate upgrades and replacements and to arm administrators with proper planning input.! Observe system trends to identify opportunities for system balancing and alleviating resource constraints. In addition, pertinent remote support data collected by storage system suppliers enables them to directly monitor and improve upon the system challenges experienced by their client enterprises, providing an effective input mechanism that facilitates the design of current and future solutions. IN THIS WHITE PAPER This white paper examines the role of advanced remote and automated support services as it relates to the successful deployment of networked storage. It explores enterprise organizations' varying needs and discusses the benefits of remote support services. The paper then focuses on storage solutions from NetApp and the corresponding customer benefits derived from deployments of NetApp's advanced remote support solutions, including AutoSupport, Premium AutoSupport, and Remote Support Diagnostics Tool.

2 SITUATION OVERVIEW Data storage has become a critical element of the enterprise landscape. The need to store, manage, and protect growing volumes of business data in the face of everincreasing demands on availability and performance has placed a heavy burden on the storage solutions that support and enable critical business applications. The volume of data that enterprises need to generate and store is increasing at an exceptional rate. IDC expects capacities shipped on external, networked disk storage systems to grow from 2.8 exabytes in 2007 to just over 29 exabytes by 2012 a 60% CAGR to account for this growing demand (see Figure 1). FIGURE 1 Worldwide Networked Storage Systems, (Exabytes) Source: IDC, May 2008 This increased demand for storage will occur as an expanding population of organizations experiences the following:! Increased data generation as more enterprise organizations continue to increase their reliance on digital information to ensure business success. Increased numbers of users generating and/or accessing enterprise data compound the effect.! Longer data retention times associated with increased regulatory and/or business continuance demands.! Growth of file-level data much of the increase in digital information and the associated growth in storage capacity will be driven by the ongoing and pervasive generation of business productivity data as well as rich media and content among consumers and business users. 2 # IDC

3 Against the backdrop of ever-increasing storage requirements, enterprises and users expect that networked storage systems will be easy to deploy, manage, and scale with minimal impact to administrators. They also expect that the storage systems deployed will provide sufficient levels of availability to ensure application uptime and, ultimately, a successful business. To maximize the benefits and availability of networked storage solutions, a growing number of enterprise organizations are seeking to leverage advanced tools and services that are available from innovative storage solutions providers. An important component of these solutions is the addition of external or remote support services that enable an enterprise organization to predict, proactively manage, and resolve system activity, events, and issues with little or no customer involvement. Storage Support Services For enterprises to be able to take advantage of the investment that they have already made in their storage infrastructure, most need external support to ensure that the storage infrastructure is operating within an acceptable performance level. In recent years, to ensure this level of performance, enterprises have expected their support providers to offer the following:! Basic data protection and predictive maintenance. While this type of service has been deployed by senior vendors for more than a decade, it is now seen as not being cutting-edge or exciting new technology. However, it lays the foundation for more sophisticated and advanced storage support services. Disks eventually fail. For a support provider to provide enterprise-class support, it must constantly monitor the devices so that prior to a failure, data can be moved to another drive so that the customer will not experience data loss. In addition, the system must notify the provider so that a replacement part can be sent to the customer location.! Asset tracking and configuration management. With the dramatic increase in data generation and storage requirements, many enterprises find that the task of tracking storage systems is becoming increasingly complex. Further, from an ongoing support perspective, having a central repository for asset management and configuration data can greatly simplify the support process. In most support issues, identifying the problem can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the process. However, a robust database that contains all of the configuration information can greatly simplify this process. Additionally, this database can be used by the support service provider when there is a support issue.! Ongoing advice and support. Customer environments have become highly complex and customized. Specifically in the area of storage, a variety of technologies are currently being used to address complex storage requirements. This situation would not present a problem for storage administrators if the storage environment remained static. However, given the dramatic increases in data and how it is managed, this is not the case. Thus, upgrading systems to allow for additional tiered capacity is constantly on the minds of most storage administrators. Comprehensive support agreements must address this requirement so that customers can continue to keep pace with their data requirements. One storage company that is helping customers to leverage and maximize the benefits of networked storage solutions is NetApp IDC #

4 NetApp Support Offerings NetApp is addressing these requirements through an integrated suite of support automation tools that enable organizations to realize greater operational efficiencies associated with deployments of networked storage. The suite consists of NetApp AutoSupport, Premium AutoSupport, and Remote Support Diagnostics Tool. Combined, these remote support tools provide a powerful collection of automated resources on which organizations can rely to predict and resolve system issues, increase system availability, and reduce pressure on available resources. NetApp AutoSupport The foundation of NetApp's suite of support automation tools, AutoSupport is a supportability engine embedded in NetApp's Data ONTAP operating system. It allows the system to deliver operational and troubleshooting information for predictive maintenance and break/fix services that ensure that a customer's storage environment continues to perform against NetApp best practices. The tool monitors the customer's environment; if it detects a condition that lies outside normal parameters, it transmits that information to a diagnostic engine at NetApp to determine the source of the issue. If analysis determines that the issue is a disk failure, the system takes the questionable disks offline and transfers the data to ensure no losses. It then dispatches replacement hardware and onsite support based on entitlement. The robust and comprehensive reporting and notification capabilities of this tool are complemented by its ability to offer customers a notification selection menu to fine-tune or filter their level of communications. This type of support is the baseline for any enterprise support provider. Failing to provide this level of support would be catastrophic to customers running businesscritical applications. The main benefit of NetApp AutoSupport is the ability of the tool to detect potential failures before they occur and thus minimize the potential for data loss, greatly enhancing business continuity. NetApp Premium AutoSupport NetApp Premium AutoSupport adds several features to the AutoSupport tool. It leverages the weekly and on-demand reporting of AutoSupport data, allowing users to visualize an entire infrastructure in a single virtual view, graphically displayed so that an administrator can determine operational system status. The tool has the ability to provide intelligent system state comparisons and to generate step-by-step operating system upgrade plans. The health check feature links fault information to solution/corrective action, which reduces an administrator's research load and makes it much more likely that smaller precursor actions will be performed. Many of the modules in this tool can be utilized for proactive support of system maintenance. Specifically, the main benefits of Premium AutoSupport include the following features:! Infrastructure visualization. Through this tool customers gain a single view of their entire storage infrastructure. Being able to see the entire environment enables customers to monitor and check the performance of any device from a single Web browser. 4 # IDC

5 ! Configurations check. The tool enables the storage administrator to check the configurations of multiple devices and quickly identify exceptions and anomalies between storage systems. By conducting these checks quickly and in an automated fashion, the storage administrator can easily keep the environment more uniform in terms of configurations, thus reducing management overhead.! Generation of software upgrade plans. The Premium AutoSupport tool reviews a customer's environment and creates a comprehensive upgrade plan specifically for that device based on the current and desired end states. By following the plan, storage administrators can avoid potential problems associated with the upgrade. One of the most difficult times for administrators and support personnel is during or immediately following an upgrade, largely due to unforeseen issues or lack of planning. The planning tools integrated with Premium AutoSupport provide the ability to avoid these issues.! Proactive onsite health checks. Proactive, automatic, remote health checks can identify problems and apply fixes before the problem occurs. The tool checks for errors throughout the system, including disks, motherboard, firmware, clustering, and hardware and software configuration issues. NetApp Remote Support Diagnostics Tool The Remote Support Diagnostics Tool focuses solely on system restoration when a catastrophic failure occurs. It performs intelligent automatic transfer of core diagnostic data and allows remote triggering of AutoSupport data, without the need for an administrator to log in remotely or work onsite to transfer triage information manually. The Remote Support Diagnostics Tool deploys a Remote Support Agent into the customer's environment and then connects back to NetApp. In the event that there is a problem, NetApp Support, through the Remote Support Agent, has access to the same configuration and error information as the onsite storage administrator. This access enables the NetApp Support representative to be far more efficient in diagnosing and resolving problems. This tool minimizes the amount of time required by the customer's storage administrator to resolve cases. It also allows NetApp to begin diagnosis and resolution of a problem 24 x 7 even when the customer storage administrator is not onsite. Benefits of NetApp Remote Support Tools NetApp's suite of remote support tools greatly enhances the NetApp customer experience. As administrators seek to keep their heads above water with the increasing pressures of exponential data growth, maximizing and expanding the benefits of advanced support tools for network storage is key. NetApp's AutoSupport, Premium AutoSupport, and Remote Support Diagnostics Tool enable customers to realize greater benefits associated with the deployment of NetApp networked storage. Beyond the basic proactive data protection and predictive maintenance, the NetApp tools also enable asset tracking, configuration management, and the ongoing advice and support required to minimize operational costs and increase business continuity and productivity IDC #

6 NetApp Customer Experiences IDC spoke with several users identified by NetApp who have deployed NetApp disk storage solutions to support a wide variety of applications. In all cases, the services provided via AutoSupport, Premium AutoSupport, and the Remote Support Diagnostics Tool proved to be an attractive, if not required, feature of the deployed storage solution. In particular, customers noted the critical role of NetApp's remote support services in providing a comprehensive understanding of the storage environment as well as the ability to proactively detect and resolve system issues, allowing administrators to focus on other IT activities critical to the business. U.S. Manufacturer This U.S. manufacturer has a midsize datacenter that supports all of its manufacturing and operations activities. This growing company uses a variety of NetApp products and technologies to support iscsi, NFS, and Fibre Channel in a mixed datacenter environment. This customer had been using the Premium AutoSupport and Remote Support Diagnostics Tools to support its storage environment for the past six months. In particular, the customer found it extremely valuable to easily and automatically gather and store configuration information on the various storage systems. This greatly aids in avoiding downtime because in the case of a system incident, the customer or NetApp can easily access system information and status. In addition, the customer cited that having a common and automatic database of system information was extremely valuable. If, during a system issue, the customer needed to contact NetApp support, or when NetApp support services proactively contacts the customer, all parties can leverage a current database of system information. The administrator said, "The nice thing is when I call, they already have a good understanding of the environment." Overall, this customer felt that NetApp's support tools and support services provided not only increased uptime but also the confidence that when there was a problem, NetApp would be able to respond with a solution. Technology Hardware Provider A very large technology hardware provider deploys about 180 NetApp storage systems that house engineering designs, test results, and other supporting data. Business continuity and providing highly available access to large volumes of critical file-level data are of the utmost importance. One of the main challenges facing the company is the ability to easily monitor all of the storage systems deployed. The customer has been using NetApp AutoSupport and Premium AutoSupport tools to help it expand its remote monitoring capabilities. The customer described the benefits of automated monitoring, which reduces resource constraints and affords administrators the ability to understand current configurations and visualize the environment, making capacity planning and storage system management much easier. In addition, the Upgrade Advisor was helpful for more complex upgrades. 6 # IDC

7 Animation and Special Effects Provider This global provider of animation and special effects for feature films and other television projects relies on NetApp storage for its production infrastructure. The requirements around the company's storage environment vary dramatically depending on the type of project currently in-house. To support its demanding environment, the company has been leveraging NetApp's AutoSupport tool. Similar to all organizations interviewed, the company appreciated the automatic monitoring and notification made available via AutoSupport. In addition, the administrator cited the ability of the tools to automatically open tickets and arrange for the shipment of replacement parts. The company found that the proactive nature of the AutoSupport tool enabled it to mitigate the risks of data loss, a critical consideration given the tight production deadlines in the film industry. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IDC believes that NetApp has developed a strong suite of tools to address the support requirements of its customers. As the company strives to build upon its reputation for providing a positive customer experience, it should consider the following:! As with all storage suppliers, NetApp must continue to advance its remote support offerings. Competition will continue to increase, especially as storage solutions providers seek to add value to their core technology and remain relevant and competitive in difficult economic times. NetApp is well-poised to leverage the cumulative database of support information it has collected over the years, which will enable the company to advance the design of current and future storage systems solutions.! Complete IT solutions continue to evolve and comprise an expanding number of components, ranging from the application level and other software to servers, storage, and networking devices. Suppliers such as NetApp should strive to ensure a graceful expansion of services that incorporate more holistic views of the overall solution over time. This will entail a deepening of existing partnerships as individual suppliers seek to find their place within the support ecosystem.! Storage solutions suppliers should continue to offer and expand the flexibility associated with support diagnostics reporting. Because each administrator will have different tolerances and preferences for the types and frequency of notifications, this flexibility will be a needed feature for success. NetApp should work to ensure this flexibility is maintained, expanded, and easily incorporated into its remote support solutions IDC #

8 CONCLUSION As enterprise organizations continue to generate unprecedented amounts of business data, there is an increased desire to maximize the investment in their network storage solutions. Appropriate remote support tools enable organizations to cost-effectively expand the monitoring of their storage solutions to predict and resolve system events, leading to a more efficient infrastructure and increased application uptime. Effective remote support tools also allow administrators to proactively and automatically track system configurations to accommodate upgrades and to coordinate system balancing. NetApp, with the services it provides via its AutoSupport, Premium AutoSupport, and Remote Support Diagnostics Tool, arms its customers with the advanced remote support services necessary to provide these expanded monitoring capabilities. The automated monitoring and reporting enabled by these remote support tools help to alleviate the extra burden on administrators and allow NetApp customers to focus on more productive tasks such as infrastructure planning, overall deployment and management of the NetApp storage solution, and other important business initiatives. In addition, the cumulative data gathered by NetApp within the remote support framework not only is beneficial to the customer but also arms NetApp itself with volumes of information that it can leverage to more easily improve upon the current and future design of the NetApp solution. Copyright Notice External Publication of IDC Information and Data Any IDC information that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from the appropriate IDC Vice President or Country Manager. A draft of the proposed document should accompany any such request. IDC reserves the right to deny approval of external usage for any reason. Copyright 2008 IDC. Reproduction without written permission is completely forbidden. 8 # IDC

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