RealTime IT News

HP's OpenView to 'Shark' IBM (and vice versa)

IBM and Hewlett-Packard have butted heads in the past, but the No. 1 and No. 2 computer makers were all smiles Tuesday when it came to their newly announced partnership on open storage networks.

The two companies inked a new interoperability agreement intended to let their customers install open storage networks without a lot of hassle.

The agreement builds on efforts back in May between Compaq Computer (acquired by HP) and Big Blue to share information with each other and serves as a stepping-stone to the anticipated delivery of a standards-based management platform based on CIM (Common Information Model) and Bluefin.

Under the terms of the agreement, HP and IBM will cross-license storage application programming interfaces (APIs) and command line interfaces (CLIs) to support the development and delivery of storage management solutions for selected storage arrays from the two companies.

The plan will allow HP OpenView storage management software to manage IBM's TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, code-named Shark, and IBM's storage management software to manage the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) and Enterprise Modular Array (EMA) storage systems.

Bottom line for customers is greater flexibility, improved service levels and operational efficiencies in the growing enterprise networked storage environments of customers.

"For the past two years, HP and IBM have been driving the storage industry towards open standards and interoperability," said HP Storage Software Division vice president Mark Sorenson. "More progress is needed, which is why we are taking this step today. Multi-vendor storage environments are a reality now, and our customers need tools to more effectively manage their networked storage solutions."

IBM, HP and even Sun Microsystems are working fast to muscle into the storage sector, currently dominated by EMC Corp. . Although EMC has recently opened up to HP will license APIs of its Symmetrix and Clariion systems while HP will license APIs for StorageWorks Virtual Array systems and StorageWorks XP systems.

"One of the biggest concerns facing customers today is the issue of interoperability and the ability to operate in today's increasingly heterogeneous environments," said IBM Storage Systems Group CTO Brian Truskowski. "Customers want to know that the vendors are working together to provide interoperability. This agreement demonstrates to customers that we are working to solve their storage networking challenges today, even as we move forward with industry standards."

HP and IBM were active participants in drafting the Bluefin specification, which has now been adopted as the basis for future work by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). The future Bluefin standard will allow IT managers to connect multiple vendors' products into a SAN and manage them all with a common set of tools. HP and IBM continue to support Bluefin in SNIA, most recently participating in a breakthrough demonstration of heterogeneous SAN management using Bluefin technology.

"BlueFin," employs technology from the WBEM initiative that uses the Managed Object Format (MOF) to describe system resources based on a CIM, or view of physical and logical system components. WBEM includes a data model, the Common Information Model (CIM), an encoding specification based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), and a transport mechanism based on Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP).

SNIA has worked for the last five years on this endeavor with the creator of the CIM and WBEM models, Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF)

CIM, evolved from HMMS (HyperMedia Management Schema). The technology covers the processes associated with handling multiple customer communication touchpoints, including telephony, e-mail, and Web site interactions. Through functionality such as intelligent routing and queuing, CIM-based solutions provide an integrated view of a company's customer communications.

"Organizations are looking for value through storage hardware and software that work in heterogeneous environments," said Sorenson. "Vendors that continue to try to lock in companies with a proprietary approach will find themselves locked out by customers."