SNW: New storage standard to include metadata search

The eXtensible Access Method is focused on searching fixed content

SAN DIEGO -- The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced today that it is well on its way to developing an interface standard that would allow companies to perform internal searches for any data using Google-like tools, based on metadata associated with a file, image, audio file, database or even e-mail.

The proposed standard, called Extensible Access Method, or XAM, is focused on searching fixed content and is expected to allow users to find information across multivendor disk and tape systems to retrieve data requested by regulators or for legal discovery purposes.

“If you’ve got 19 days to provide information to someone, you can use these common API sets to access the data,” Matt Brisse, technology strategist and vice chairman of the board for SNIA, said at Storage Networking World here today.

The standard could also allow a hospital to retrieve a patient’s old X-rays, as well as any electronic documents associated with it, such as doctors’ notes.

Suzie Dahle, CIO of DXP Enterprises, Inc., said being able to search data and restore it piecemeal versus having to restore an entire database, would greatly reduce the labor involved with data restores.

Brisse said 36 of SNIA’s member companies are working on the XAM interface, “so this is a full-court press.” SNIA’s Fixed Content Aware Storage Technical Working Group expects to demonstrate the standard in early 2007.

Ray Dunn, a member of SNIA’s board of directors, said the group is working on three separate updated versions of the Storage Management Initiative Specification, or SMI-S, which defines the way multivendor systems communicate with each other. SNIA is currently working to get versions of SMI-S ratified as an international standard by the International Standards Organization.

Dunn said Version 1.02 is being reviewed by SNIA members, and Version 1.03 has just been ratified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is being pushed to the International Standards Organization for ratification. Version 1.1 is on track to be submitted to the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards for ratification as an ANSI standard.

Dunn said SNIA is particularly focused on Version 1.1 of SMI-S, which defines interfaces between network-attached storage and iSCSI-based devices. SMI-S v1.1 deals with device descriptions and the services associated with them, such as copying data from one array to another.

“It will have the capability of copying data from one host to another, regardless of the vendor,” Dunn said.

DXP Enterprises, which distributes maintenance, repair, and operating equipment and products to inudstries such as oil and gas companies, recently installed a disaster recovery architecture that includes NAS arrays that replicate data between two sites 200 miles apart.

Dahle said she's happy to hear the SNIA is developing replication standards "because while you can get the data over there, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s usable or it’s right. You have to be able to work on both sides of that."

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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