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Storage Management Standard Takes a Big Step Forward

The Storage Networking Industry Association's Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) is on a fast track to becoming an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard.

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) has agreed to take SMI-S, which helps storage products from different vendors function together under one manageable interface, through the INCITS Fast Track process. The process is reserved for specifications that have already gone through rigorous technical review, and is expected to result in SMI-S becoming an official ANSI standard in the second quarter of 2004.

"This moves SMI-S toward becoming a true standard, which SNIA cannot do on their own, as they are not accredited as a standards body," says Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "Once a specification becomes a standard, it is more apt to be adopted by the industry. The fast track attests that INCITS believes that the SNIA SMI-S specification was well structured and does not need much work in order to become an ANSI standard."

SNIA views the strategic alliance with INCITS as "a significant milestone," according to SNIA chair Sheila Childs. "Our partnership with INCITS is key to fulfilling our goal of standardization through a formal ANSI-accredited standards body, allowing vendors and users alike to adopt SMI-S-compliant products with complete confidence."

Citing the years of work that have gone into the interoperability standard by more than 30 companies, INCITS Executive Director Pat Morris says, "It is time to use the INCITS Fast Track process so we will have an American National standard within months."

SMI-S defines an open system standard application program interface (API), allowing applications to manage storage devices manufactured by all of the industry leaders. SMI-S 1.0 represents the first step of several planned iterations of the specification, steps that will go beyond standardizing management of SANs to include NAS, iSCSI, and other storage networking technologies.

The Storage Management Initiative also includes extensive interoperability testing in SNIA's SMI-Lab, education programs and tools for developers, and demonstrations of the new technology. "These combined efforts have already resulted in a robust specification that has been extensively field-tested," SNIA says.

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