Compared to network management, storage management software is "like stepping back in time ten years," says Mike Smith, director of product development at storage management software vendor Tek-Tools, Dallas, TX, and veteran of network management powerhouse Micromuse.
But in one respect, storage management has a leg up on network management: Developers can capitalize on XML, which came along after most network management tools were developed.
Following SNIA's lead with XML-based CIM, a number of storage management software vendors are building their products around XML. These include the afore-mentioned Tek-Tools; StorScape, Slovenia; IBM with its forthcoming StorageTank, and StorageNetworks with STORos.
The reason? XML allows you to "index and categorize data and apply it across different hosts and platforms," says Smith. That translates to better interoperability.
XML also simplifies supporting new devices. Because it's "self-describable and extendable, XML is an ideal way to cover all the devices which make up the storage world," says Goran Garevski, chief architect at StorScape.
The downside of XML for storage management? Even though storage vendors such as IBM, HDS, and Sun have expressed their support for CIM and XML, few - if any - vendors actually support it yet.
StorageNetworks' Tony Scotto, senior vice president of product development, believes it will be another 2 to 4 years before storage falls in line with XML. In the meantime, he says, storage management software will continue to rely on agents that collect data using tried-but-true mechanisms such as SNMP, MIBs and command line interfaces.