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SNIA Airs Storage Management Interoperability

One of the highlights set to take place at the Storage Networking World Conference in Palm Desert, Calif. this week is a series of demonstrations of a common interface for the management of multi-vendor storage networks. While this may not be the most sexy sounding news to descend on the tech landscape this week, those steeped in the storage sector acknowledge its importance.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is leading the presentations, with help from various companies who will supply array controllers, media libraries, Fibre Channel switches, FC to SCSI routers, and management clients. The movement is part of the crucial, broader industry initiative to set open, as opposed to proprietary, standards for storage, and to facilitate interoperability among vendors' products.

The API is based on the Distributed Management Task Force's (DMTF) Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WEBM) technology and is being demonstrated in products and prototypes by SNIA member companies as part of the SNW Interoperability Lab.

CIM is an object-oriented framework for describing management information that isn't bound to any particular vendor's implementation. The SNIA and the DMTF are trying to sell industry watchers the notion that WBEM, which provides the ability for businesses to deliver standard-based management tools leveraging emerging Web technologies such as XML, has reached sufficient technical maturity to replace SNMP and other vendor-proprietary transports as the backbone for common storage management. The consortiums say tools have popped up to make the implementation of WBEM possible.

"Customers have been asking for a simple way to manage storage networks and CIM-WBEM technology is the answer," said Brad Stamas, chairman of the SNIA Board of Directors. "With CIM-WBEM technology, customers will be able to manage multi-vendor products with a single management application. This is a huge breakthrough as it will save customers a significant amount of time and resources."

Specifically, the configuration showcased at SNW will demonstrate volume management, logical unit number (LUN) masking/mapping, asset management, and status/event monitoring using clients and servers.

"The presence of these standards will leverage a new generation of more functional management applications and also enable end users and integrators to more easily construct multi-vendor solutions," said John Webster, a senior analyst at Illuminata Inc.

Indeed, Webster told the crowd at the Storage Management 2002 show in Chicago on March 22 to keep an eye on the CIM initiative.

A presentation titled "CIM: Crossing the Management Chasm" is scheduled for Wednesday, beginning at 3:20pm at the SNW conference, which is being held at the Desert Springs Marriott in Palm Desert.

Companies participating in the CIM/WEBM demonstration include storage heavyweights and lesser-knowns alike, including AppIQ, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., Crossroads Systems, Inc., EMC Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hitachi Data Systems, Prisa Networks, QLogic, Quantum Corporation, Spectra Logic, StorageTek, Sun Microsystems, and VERITAS Software.

Many of these firms hope to ship CIM/WBEM-enabled products this year and early next year.