Storage Vendors Show Support For SAN Standards

Most of the time they are bitter rivals, but four of the largest storage vendors this week joined together under the umbrella of interoperability to announce support for some new storage area network standards.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) members IBM (Quote, Company Info, News), Sun Microsystems (Quote, Company Info, News), Hitachi (Quote, Company Info, News), Hitachi Data Systems and VERITAS Software (Quote, Company Info, News ) said they are dedicated to the promoting and advancing SNIA’s Common Information Model (CIM), Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology and Storage Management Initiative (SMI) specifications (formerly Bluefin) for Storage Area Network (SAN)-based storage management.

The companies are encouraging all other storage vendors to join them, but conspicuously absent from the announcement were SNIA members such as EMC, Hewlett Packard, Legato, Computer Associates and Fujitsu Softek.

“There is growing concern among storage customers surrounding depth of integration, timeliness to market, and costs involved with API swapping,” said Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Kenniston. “Industry efforts that comply with, and support SNIA and SMI specifications are going to be embraced by storage customers.”

CIM/WBEM has been endorsed by SNIA as the technology to help enable simplified multi-vendor management of storage networks. All four companies helped in drafting the SNIA-adopted Bluefin/SMI specifications. These specs define how CIM technology is used to manage storage environments.

As part of their commitment, Hitachi, IBM, Sun and VERITAS are expected to ship compliant software next year, make their CIM Providers (SMI Agents) available to others for testing, conduct joint interoperability testing and qualifications and support both emerging SMI specifications and the CIM/WBEM interface as specified by SNIA’s Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

“Storage customers want management solutions that lower TCO, open the door to heterogeneous solutions and are standards based,” said SNIA chairman Brad Stamas. “The SNIA recognizes the importance of CIM/WBEM standards in building and achieving open, interoperable storage management, and believes that this announcement will accelerate development and acknowledgment of CIM/WBEM standards-based solutions in the industry.”

Each of the companies said they have individual plans to roll out CIM/WBEM-based products in calendar year 2003.

For example, Hitachi’s HiCommand Management Framework and suite of software products, announced in May 2002, is expected to ship with its first CIM compliant features and modules by the end of this quarter, and continue to ship with expanded features through 2003.

IBM said it has plans to ship new CIM-enabled disk storage products during the first half of 2003. Big Blue also has plans to CIM enable their Tivoli Software storage products and ship new CIM-enabled products during the first half of 2003.

In August 2002, Sun Microsystems shipped its CIM compliant Sun StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager, but said it is still committing to enhance and expand ESM’s CIM compliance, and introduce CIM providers for more of its hardware products, during the first half of 2003.

VERITAS said it plans on tweaking its heterogeneous products such as VERITAS SANPoint Control and VERITAS Volume Manager to adapt to CIM through a specific program.

“Industry standards promise to simplify the interoperability of storage area networks that are part of our data center operations,” said Joe Aultman, Technical Director of Enterprise Storage, BellSouth. “The commitment to deliver standards-based storage products expressed today by these industry leaders has increased our confidence in deploying solutions based on the new standards.”

Analysts have thoughts of grandeur for the storage software market. Aberdeen Group proclaimed the storage spending will reach $21.2 billion by 2005. That is a general view for which there are many subsectors, such as storage resource management (SRM), which IDC said will reap more than $4.6 billion in revenue by 2006.