SNIA lovefest promises to focus on customer
By Alan Earls
Facing up to a challenge posed by Illuminata analyst John Webster for the storage industry to move beyond just interoperability to a world of cooperation, Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) took steps to do exactly that this week. Specifically mentioning Webster's idea, SNIA board member Brenda Christensen announced that SNIA members Brocade Communications Systems, Inc., Compaq Computer Corporation, EMC Corporation, Hitachi Data Systems Corporation, International Business Machines Corporation and McDATA Corporation would provide storage-product customers with their first qualified cross-vendor, interoperable storage networking solutions. Perhaps more importantly, though, the initiative also provides for expanded cooperative support among storage-product vendors.
The six companies have completed joint qualification of two open storage area network (SAN) solutions that enable the coexistence of data zones containing Compaq, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and IBM storage system products on a single, shared Fibre Channel fabric. These four vendors have signed bilateral cooperative support agreements intended to simplify joint customer support in multivendor environments.
A new Supported Solutions Forum will expand upon these initiatives. The six companies will serve as founding members of the forum.
Reacting to the SNIA announcement, Webster notes, "The agreements among these six vendors are significant and very promising. The fact that others will be encouraged to join - particularly software vendors - is perhaps even more significant."
Webster points out that the agreement is between vendors - not between customers and vendors. "Therefore it is vitally important that, as a next step, vendor reps in charge of customer accounts become familiar with how to function as single-point contacts and manage issues that need to be escalated," he says.
"The fact that SNIA has been able to pull these otherwise ferocious competitors together, in the interest of the end user and growth of the storage networking industry, is remarkable indeed," says Arun Taneja, analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group. Taneja suggests that if this had happened three years ago the Fibre Channel industry "would be triple the size it is today."
"The challenge now will be to keep the doors open for other members to play on an equal footing and to keep expanding the multivendor support, he says. "All in all this bodes well for the storage networking industry,"
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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.