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IBM, Brocade Team on Standardized Storage Management

Brocade Communications Systems Monday teamed with IBM to deliver standards-based storage area network management software.

In the agreement, for which financial details were not made public, the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager will use the Brocade Fabric Access API 2.0 for discovery of active zone configurations in a Brocade fabric to show separate views for each discovered zone and to show all devices in a zone. Essentially, the software infrastructures will keep tabs on storage devices in a network.

San Jose, Calif.'s Brocade, a maker of fabric switches and software whose purpose is to optimize data availability and storage and server resources, said its Fabric Access API will be compliant with the Common Information Model (CIM) by the first half of 2003. CIM, is a model for describing management information in a network enterprise environment.

Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM and Brocade believe Monday's deal will set the stage for further convergence of SAN management strategies based on CIM, and the WBEM, or Web-Based Enterprise Management, which is a set of management and Internet technologies developed to unify the management of enterprise computing. CIM and WEBM are both object technologies applied by a greater, overarching strategy called Bluefin, whose purpose is to make it possible for heterogeneous SANs to operate smoothly.

The firms argue that through CIM, storage infrastructure components will have a standard interface which software can discover and use to manage those components. This reduces the amount of specialized code within the management application and allows the company to focus on other issues. Storage infrastructure providers and software management makers are banking on such standards as CIM and WBEM to ensure that customers benefit from the rapid development of SAN management applications. Firms such as Brocade and IBM are trying to answer their customers call for increased functionality and greater return-on investment.

In an expansion of their existing partnership, IBM's Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager is optimized to manage the Brocade installed base of over 1.8 million SAN ports. Brocade is also now a certified "Ready for Tivoli" partner, which helps ensure that Brocade products are designed, tested, and validated to be interoperable with Tivoli Software technology management solutions.

The play is one of a myriad of partnerships in which usual rivals turn teammates for the goal of promoting interoperability for SAN environments. HP, EMC and a number of other major systems vendors have inked interoperability deals lately for the same purpose.

IBM also sells and supports the entire family of 2-Gigabit-per-second Brocade SAN infrastructure, including Brocade's signature SilkWorm line of switches. In turn, Brocade serves as the storage networking foundation for IBM open SAN products for SAN customers in Europe.