Storage Vendors Get Behind Interoperability Standard


Sun, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and Symantec on Thursday said they will work together to push the SNIA's Storage Management Initiative specification (SMI-S) as a common industry standard for storage management.

SMI-S is aimed at enabling storage hardware and software from multiple vendors to interoperate in storage networks by developing new specifications and programming interfaces for a Web services framework for advanced storage management.

In October, IBM, Sun, Network Appliance and other vendors teamed up on a project called Aperi to develop an open-source storage software management platform. While the Aperi group said it would work with the SNIA to develop storage management standards, others in the industry disputed the need for a separate initiative.

With Sun's departure, Aperi has the look of an IBM-focused project. Participants include mainly IBM technology partners, such as Fibre Channel switch vendors Brocade Communications, Cisco Systems and McData, all of which sell switches through IBM sales channels. Others include Network Appliance and Engenio Information Technologies, which have OEM relationships with IBM; CA, which brings its storage software to IBM mainframe environments; and Fujitsu.

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IBM declined to comment on the SNIA/Aperi situation. However, in a statement, the company said, "IBM fully supports activities to further develop open standards for storage and has long been involved in SNIA. However, the open-source collaboration model, like the one being used for Aperi, is one that has taken off and its results are all around us. It has re-energized the whole IT industry. In the last decade, the open-source model for collaborative development has proven 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."

CA, which belongs to SNIA, Aperi and the Eclipse Foundation, said in a statement that it "believes that customers benefit when vendors work together to advance storage industry standards and open-source implementations of the standards."

Mark Gonzalez, HP's vice president of enterprise storage and server sales for the Americas, said customers are looking for interoperability between multiple storage vendors to simplify storage management and keep overall costs down. As a result, he said, it was interesting that IBM tried to develop open storage management because the vendor gets most its revenue from sales related to proprietary systems like mainframes and P5-processor-related sales.

"IBM said, 'Let's standardize, on my products,' " Gonzalez said. "The option was SMI-S. Why create a new standards body when we have one? They called it 'Aperi.' It means 'open' in Latin. We're not in Italy."