An Open Source Eye on Storage Management

UPDATED: A consortium of some of the biggest vendors in the high-tech industry has
formed to work on a common storage software management platform, something
of a Holy Grail in the space to date.


Called Aperi, a Latin expression meaning “to open,” the group includes
Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates, Engenio
Information Technologies, Fujitsu Limited, IBM, McData and Network
Appliance.


The companies’ common goal is to give customers greater flexibility and
choice in the way they manage their storage environments, which are
typically made of hardware and software from several vendors.

Jim Stallings, vice-president, intellectual property and standards for IBM,
said on a conference call that technical barriers, such as application
programming interfaces (APIs) , have separated vendor from
vendor, hardware from software and fabric from machinery.


“This has created fragmentation between developers and independent storage
management products, and this way has created major problems for customers,”
Stallings said.


Aperi will base its methodology on the popular Eclipse Foundation, taking an
open approach to building a common platform for managing all brands of
storage systems, Stallings added.

Just as member companies do in Eclipse, Aperi
participants will contribute code to help build interoperable storage
applications.

Also, like Eclipse, Aperi will be managed by a non-profit organization.
Members will work together to develop the platform and offer it free. The
consortium will announce details about the organization, which will include
a multi-vendor board of directors, at a later date.


IBM will donate part of its
storage infrastructure management technology to the open source community.
Other members will also donate some of their intellectual property.


“We will use this collective code to establish the first implementation of
Aperi’s reference base for this storage management platform,” Stallings
said.


On the call, it was noted that HP and EMC were absent from the list of
members. Stallings said those companies were invited and pointed out that any
company who wants to join is welcome.


“Yes, we have talked to EMC, HP and others who are not on the list and for a
variety of reasons they have chosen not to join or to delay their
participation,” Stallings said.


EMC had a different story.


“We were surprised that EMC was first informed of the proposed initiative
after IBM had already briefed the press, reflecting a consortium without
EMC’s inclusion,” the company said in a statement. “EMC remains committed to
looking at all standards proposals, but we cannot take a stance on the
proposed initiative at this time.”


IBM Hatches Lightweight App Server

IBM has been active on other open source fronts.


The Armonk, N.Y., company IBM unveiled WebSphere Application Server
Community Edition (WAS CE), essentially a light weight, open source
application server to help make application creation easier for Java
developers.


The software is designed to provide mid-sized businesses, departments and
business partners with a piece of software to test and deploy a
service-oriented architecture (SOA) with no upfront costs.


WAS CE is 90 percent based on core open source technology from the Apache
Geronimo application server. But it also includes technology from Gluecode
Software, which IBM acquired
in May, said Scott Cosby, IBM’s Gluecode transition executive.


Available later this year for free, the new software supports the Apache
Tomcat Web server and will also include IBM’s Cloudscape database, which is
based on the open source Apache Derby Project, he said.


“This marks the next step in the transition to bring Gluecode into the IBM
WebSphere branded family,” Cosby said. “It’s also a natural evolution to the
maturity of the underlying open source project.”


Offerings such as WAS CE are good for the open source community, but it could
also lead to other revenue streams for IBM. Customers that desire technical
support can choose from a variety of WAS CE support services for $900 per
server for one year.


In general, IBM has helped stimulate the high-tech economy with its open source ventures.


Just yesterday, it pledged royalty-free access to its patent portfolio
for the development and implementation of selected open health care and
education software standards built around Web services, electronic forms and
open document formats.


That came months after IBM opened up 500 software patents to developers of open source software so they
can develop without fear of legal reprisals.

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