SNIA's SMI-S testing program gains momentum

What you will learn from this tip: The functionality of SNIA-CTP and why it may greatly benefit you and your storage system.

Maybe you've heard the term SNIA-CTP, and wondered exactly what it was. SNIA-CTP is the SNIA (Storage Network Industry Association) Interoperability Conformance Test Program, which consists of master test suites that are developed, owned and operated by SNIA. SNIA calls CTP "an integral step towards providing verification that a storage vendor's product implementation is compliant to industry specifications," particularly the Storage Management Initiative Specification (

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Analyst John Webster of the Data Mobility Group says that end users are showing great interest in SMI-S in general, as well as in CTP. Evidence for this comes in the form of user surveys, where SMI-S is identified as either important or a "must have." In fact, he says, the majority of user RFPs now include a requirement for SMI-S conformance.

Webster says the SNIA-CTP is the storage industry's way of saying two things to users: There is an industry standard interoperability specification, which is based on a broader standard management implementation (DTMF's Common Information Model), that continues to advance and evolve in terms of functionality. And CTP will follow that advancement and assure users that when vendors say that they comply with the SMI-S standard, those vendors are in fact living up to their commitments.

Therefore, he says, "The value in SNIA-CTP to users is one of assurance. CTP is a pass/fail exam -- if a product passes, it gets to display the SNIA-CTP logo; and if it fails, the vendor has to make it pass in a future test to get the CTP logo."

While SMI-S has been commonly associated with device management, that's only half of the story, Webster says. "The next major release of SMI-S will enable heterogeneous data protection services via a standard management interface for local and remote mirror management, local snapshot management, and clone management." It will also provide a standard method of monitoring available capacity as these processes occur, and it will expand its Fibre Channel boundaries to embrace iSCSI, making it an even more compelling proposition.

Rick Bauer, technology director at SNIA, says at present 27 storage companies are participating in the CTP program and approximately 300 products are already certified as conforming to the specification.

"We feel like we are really gaining traction, and we have moved from the breathless pronouncement stage to the nitty-gritty of delivering a specification," says Bauer. He says the CTP is related to the "stickiness and maturity" of SMI-S -- a chicken and egg proposition in which storage vendors must continue to invest in research and development, and users must continue to demand adherence to the spec. "The premise and promise is that eventually all storage will be managed by SMI-S," he says, while the role of CTP is to "make sure that this doesn't turn into something with as little value as Confederate money."

For more information:

SMI-S: Customers want it, so what's the problem?

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

This was first published in July 2005

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