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HP sees SMI-S as 'key enabler' of SAN market

Kevin Komiega

Hewlett-Packard Co. has opened up its management interfaces to software partners in an effort to speed the development of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), an emerging industry standard that fosters interoperability of storage hardware and software.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP introduced a developers' program last week to facilitate partner development of technologies based on SMI-S, which allows storage management systems to identify, classify, monitor and control physical and logical resources in a network storage environment.

SMI-S is expected to be ratified by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) later this summer. HP said the goal of the HP SMI-S Developers Program is to accelerate the adoption of SMI-S-based solutions that simplify the interoperability challenges developers face in building storage solutions, thus streamlining management of multivendor networked storage.

Sheila Childs, chairperson of SNIA and vice president of product management for Legato Systems Inc., said SMI-S will shift the development of the storage industry, enable vendor "efficiencies," accelerate the delivery of interoperability, and improve the manageability of storage networks.

"All of the major vendors are involved in the Storage Management Initiative. Standing up and saying that is one thing, but building the products takes a while," she said. "We have good commitments from major vendors, and it's just a matter of rolling

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[the products] out."

"At its heart, SMI-S is a specification unified on a common way to deliver value to the customer. SMI-S leaves room for vendor differentiation but makes lower-level management common," she said.

Childs added that users will be able to mix and match components from different vendors and bring legacy equipment under a single point of management.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said it's time for storage vendors to put up or shut up when it comes to SMI-S.

"All of [this] proprietary stuff is really getting tiring. If HP can capitalize on being the good guys, I'm all for it," he said. "Users are sick and tired of getting boxed in, so I can't imagine that they wouldn't stand and applaud."

AppIQ Inc., BMC Software Corp., CreekPath Systems Inc., Storability Software Inc. and Veritas Software Inc. have all signed on with HP to co-develop SMI-S technology.

Based on the current SMI-S draft, the program gives partners a head start in developing storage management applications that interoperate with HP storage arrays, including the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA), Extended Platform (XP), Virtual Array (VA) and Enterprise Modular Array (EMA) families, the company said.

Bob Schultz, vice president of HP's network storage solutions group, said HP has been shipping early SMI-S interfaces in two of its storage arrays.

"The plan is, as we go through this year, we'll roll out SMI-S as interfaces in our products," he said. "Our belief is this is one of the key enablers of the SAN market overall."

HP is currently shipping pre-release 1.0 SMI-S interfaces with the HP StorageWorks Disk Array XP and VA families and plans to add SMI-S providers to the StorageWorks EVA and EMA families later this year.

IBM Corp. launched a similar program last fall by giving independent software vendors early access to IBM's Bluefin implementations on its disk and tape products and on IBM Tivoli software products.

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Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer

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