ANSI Ratifies Key Storage Device Spec

A leading storage standards body said a specification for rendering storage
drives more “intelligent” to improve their management and performance has
been ratified by the American National Standards Institute.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), which announced the news
at the Storage Networking World Spring 2004 show in Phoenix this week, said
the Object-based Storage Device (OSD) specification has completed the
American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) ballot process. HP, IBM, Intel have worked on
the spec, along with other vendors.

The passage means OSD has taken a big step toward becoming the 10th family
of SCSI commands, which accompany the SCSI Block Commands for
disk drives and SCSI Stream Commands for tape drives, SNIA said in a

An OSD is a device that stores, retrieves and interprets objects,
which are containers that house application data and storage attributes used
to store files, database records and e-mail. Experts say an OSD is valuable because it
transfers the low-level storage functions of file systems and databases into
the storage disk or tape drives, improving block-based interfaces.

Storage systems enabled by OSD will offer more scalable, secure and
cross-platform data sharing, making the network much more dynamic and
intelligent than it would be if it just employed traditional “dumb” drives.
OSD-based systems are also expected to benefit from delayed allocation of data on the
storage media and smart caching.

Ultimately, storage systems based on the OSD spec can be created with shared
access by multiple clients with better performance and security, all major
advantages for storage applications.

For example, enterprise and scientific applications that generate high
levels of read/write access to file systems and databases will benefit from
the scalability of OSD. Moreover, applications that require greater security
will benefit from the authorization of individual I/O requests.

While the ANSI news is a sign of progress, Michael Mesnier, co-chair of the
SNIA OSD Technical Work Group (TWG) and storage architect at Intel, said the
OSD working group will continue to work with the ANSI committee to add more
functionality to the current spec.

For example, Julian Satran, co-chair of the SNIA OSD Technical Work Group
and distinguished engineer at IBM, said his group plans to tailor OSD for
information lifecycle management (ILM) and quality-of-service attributes
which expand the range of applications that the OSD can address.

SNIA, which also announced
that 108 storage products are now compliant with the Storage Management
Initiative Specification for interoperability among disparate devices, has
agreed to ensure new storage networking products will use SMI-S in 2005.

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