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Major Companies Rally Behind Storage Management Standard

EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Sun Microsystems and Symantec will work on beefing up the Storage Management Initiative Specification.

The group comprised of EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Ltd., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Symantec Corp. would work on beefing up the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), which is an industry standard for managing disk arrays and storage switches.

The current standard, which is under the control of the Storage Networking Industry Association, provides the documentation for coding a limited number of services in storage-management software. Those services include discovery, management and reporting on the data center hardware.

The vendors, however, are looking to add to the standard more services, and to build a reference implementation, Tom Rose, portfolio lead for storage software at HP said. The latter would be actual code that storage software vendors could drop into their products to make them SMI-S compliant.

The benefit for customers would be in buying software they know would work with any device that supports the standard, Rose said. For vendors, the effort would lead to faster development time, since they would not have to write the code for the standardized services themselves.

"By defining standards for the basic building blocks, we can differentiate our products on higher value functions," Rose said. "We don't have to worry about the plumbing."

Among the services the vendors plan to standardize through SMI-S are workflow, security, dependency management, reporting constructs and policy enforcement, Rose said. In addition, the group plans to develop a set of application programming interfaces for connecting software to hardware.

Once the documentation for the spec has been completed, a reference implementation would be built, Rose said. A date for completion, however, has not been set.

"Like any good software, it's always best to write a good specification before building a reference implementation," Rose said.

While the new group has several storage heavyweights, the one major vendor missing is IBM, which said it preferred to pursue an open-source model in developing storage standards. Such a model avoids the use of proprietary technology in industry standards that sometimes lead to vendors receiving royalties when specifications are deployed in commercial products.

"In the last decade, the open source model for collaborative development has proven itself to be an effective way to bring open standards to different systems and we think it's the best way to achieve open standards-based storage management," IBM, which is a member of SNIA, said in an emailed statement.

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