SNIA unveils storage management spec

Signaling the arrival of storage management nirvana, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) this week will demonstrate a set of open interfaces backed by the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co., Veritas Software Corp., EMC Corp., and IBM Corp.

SNIA will use its biannual Storage Networking World conference as a coming out party for SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification), once known as Bluefin.

Five years in development, the set of interfaces permit the control of heterogeneous storage by third-party storage management software packages. SMI-S will allow storage administrators to create and delete zones and volumes, as well as monitor switches, array controllers and host bus adapters.

Enterprises will now have the ability to manage all of their storage capacity -- independent of the manufacturer -- with a single management framework.

HP, Veritas, EMC and IBM have reported they will implement SMI-S interfaces in hardware and software offerings that will be available next year.

According to Larry Krantz, president of SNIA's Storage Management Forum (SMF), SMI-S is also an initiative -- not just a set of interfaces.

SNIA has established an interoperability lab in Colorado Springs, Colo., for vendors to test their products with those of other vendors. But the association is also developing compliance tests as part of its ICTP (Interoperability Compliance Testing Program).

The tests will ensure that storage components such as arrays, tape libraries, and switches have properly applied the SMI-S standard.

"We hope to bypass early-stage issues with interoperability," Kranz said, noting that past storage-centric standards such as FC (Fibre Channel) suffered initially from variations in how the standard was applied.

"To get adoption, we need education, like the SMI development courses we ran all summer," Krantz said. Additionally, SNIA has created a developer's network.

On the storage-vendor front, Hewlett-Packard and other companies are already implementing SMI-S into hardware products.

Steve Jerman, SMI-S lead architect at HP, said the company has been using the Distributed Management Task Force's WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) standard, which -- together with CIM (Common Information Model) -- makes up the framework for the SMI-S interfaces.

"I'm hearing that 90% of the array industry has adopted this," Jerman said.

That 90% includes EMC, which until recently was exploring a storage management framework that did not incorporate SMI-S.

"SMI-S helps us drive the ability to do multivendor management," said Barry Ader, director of software product marketing at EMC.

EMC has said it will make available "providers" for its full line of Symmetrix and Clariion storage arrays -- including older models -- by year's end. This mechanism feeds management information about a device up to a storage management software client.

In the first quarter of next year, EMC will release new SMI-S-enabled versions of its storage management software products VisualSAN, VisualSRM (Storage Resource Management), and ControlCenter.

Also on the client side, Veritas will ensure that its storage resource software product, SANPoint Control, conforms with SMI-S by the first quarter of 2004.

But Roger Reich, senior technical director at Veritas, warned that the full spectrum of SMI-S capabilities will not be realized for some time.

"We're asking (storage vendors) to re-engineer products, which is a very long and daunting process," Reich said.

SNIA acknowledges that SMI-S interfaces are not functionally complete and that vendors will need to offer existing proprietary interfaces as standard interfaces for special functions.

"Our target is to cover 80% of storage management functions," Krantz said.

Krantz singled out replication services and multipathing as important storage functionalities that need to be included in future releases of SMI-S. SNIA is also looking to expand the interface itself to include support for NAS appliances and will add a locking functionality that permits two different software clients access to the same piece of hardware.

Meanwhile, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. will announce at the conference it has added multiprotocol support to its forthcoming Brocade SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform. The company has added support for FC-to-FC routing, iSCSI-to-FC bridging, and FC-IP for SAN extension over distance. "Customers want to take their existing SAN infrastructure ... and extend it for disaster recovery," said Derek Granath, director of hardware products at Brocade.

Hewlett-Packard will also announce the availability of Command View Eva 3.0, its first SMI-S enabled storage management solution. The software enables storage administrators to cluster data, LUN creation, copy service, and LUN mapping and masking.

This story, "SNIA unveils storage management spec" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon