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AppIQ's 'open' program off to bumpy start

AppIQ's call to vendors to join its program to create standards-based middleware to simplify storage application development has received strong feedback from the industry -- not all of it positive.

Storage resource management upstart, AppIQ Inc., is calling all vendors to support its OpenIQ program that aims to define a common set of application program interfaces for developing storage management applications -- a goal that's been promised for a long time but never delivered by the storage industry.

Under AppIQ's program, users no longer have the frustration of managing the same functionality a hundred different ways, according to Doug Cahill, vice president of business development at AppIQ.

"With a storage operating system in place that defines a single way to create a discovery model, a security model, a policy engine, a consistent store, a consistent way to do events, users can implement these services once," Cahill said.

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AppIQ plans to contribute its CIMIQ-X storage middleware specification to the OpenIQ community as a starting point and said it will work with the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to ensure that the specification conforms to Storage Management Initiative Specification ( SMI-S).

"There's a clear need to be able to, for example, pull together repositories across different applications instead of reinventing the wheel every time," said Robert Stevenson, technology strategist with Nielson Media Research, an AppIQ customer. "But we need to keep SNIA engaged, otherwise it smells like vendor lockin rather than the industry moving forward."

He added that AppIQ doesn't have the resources of a larger vendor, which will make it tough for the startup to build this community. "That's a lot of dollars required to maintain an open source community … They would have to bet the bank, otherwise it is a catch phrase orientated statement to make their product seem more open in the market."

OpenIQ gets the cold shoulder

Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst of the Taneja Group, called the OpenIQ program "a sham … little more than an ISV [independent software vendor] program in disguise." He likened AppIQ's effort to EMC's WideSky initiative that also aimed to give developers a "write-once, manage many" capability across storage devices from different vendors. After months of industry pressure, EMC killed the project in August, 2003 in favor of supporting SMI-S.

Similarly, IBM is not in favor of an open community initiative run by a vendor, especially if it's not run by IBM. Word has it Big Blue is preparing to announce its own "open source" middleware program for storage applications. AppIQ's OpenIQ program is a "pre-emptive strike" said a source close to the company , who wished to remain anonymous.

"While we applaud AppIQ for highlighting the importance of software development and open standards, the fact that they are not discussing information about opening source code runs counter to the idea of building a true open community," said Laura Sanders, vice president of IBM's TotalStorage Open Software group. "What they are calling an open community initiative appears more like a traditional ISV program, and with no members disclosed, it is hard to see how this will significantly impact the storage market," the company said in a statement e-mailed to

Likewise, EMC issued a response to AppIQ's announcement that said, "EMC very likely won't join this community -- we already continue to lead SMI-S, CIM [Common Information Model] and WBEM [Web-Based Enterprise Management] standards efforts in both the SNIA and DMTF [Distributed Management Task Force]."

On a positive note, John Webster, founder and senior analyst of Data Mobility Group, noted that AppIQ has credibility as an independent software maker, unlike the hardware vendors. "AppIQ has already done the work of leveraging SMI-S to implement an integrated SAN management and storage resource management platform that supports all of the leading storage vendors," he said. AppIQ's OEM partners include Hitachi Data Systems Inc., Hewlett Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc., Engenio Technologies Inc. and Silicon Graphics Inc. .

AppIQ expects to unveil the founding members of OpenIQ during the fall trade show time frame. Company execs pointed out that OpenIQ, like SMI-S began with a group of vendors that developed the initial specification, code-named BlueFin, that was eventually handed over to SNIA.

"We feel that the initial focus should be to develop the best possible specification, followed by a comprehensive reference implementation that is based on the specification, and then the community should help determine the licensing options for the various components of the implementation," said Ash Ashutosh, chief technology officer of AppIQ.

AppIQ's goal, of course, is to make sure that its CIMIQ-X middleware becomes the core component of the implementation.

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