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ADIC supports SMI-S, but management tools lag

This week, ADIC launched the first tape library with SMI-S support. The problem is that management tools still have to catch up.

It's a step in the right direction. That's what some industry experts are saying about Advanced Digital Information Corp.'s (ADIC) newly released tape library with Storage Management Initiative Specification ( SMI-S) support. But others remain wary, citing the fact that most SMI-S management software doesn't yet support the SMI-S tape library standard.

The addition of SMI-S support to its flagship enterprise tape library, the Scalar i2000 was only officially announced this week, but it's actually nothing new for ADIC.

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SMI-S: customers want it, so what's the problem?
According to Steve Whitner, corporate marketing manager for ADIC, the technology had been in the works for months, but the company had to wait to be certified by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) under the SMI-S standard.

The holdup? Finding another company developing a competitive product, a requirement for SNIA certification. It didn't happen until last month and the competing product still hasn't been announced yet. Rumor has it that the other developer is IBM.

SMI-S support means that IT departments using any storage resource management tool that supports the specification's tape library profiles can discover and manage its Scalar i2000 libraries in any location.

"It's something our customers have told us there's a need for," Whitner said. "One of our customers had specifically told us that when he was rezoning his SAN, he wanted to be able to see his backup targets. He couldn't without SMI-S support in those targets, our libraries."

"First of all, everyone should be doing it," said Steve Duplessie, founder and analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Second of all, good for ADIC to hop on board -- it gives them a distinct competitive advantage in my opinion. It won't last long, but heck, while it's there, I'd yell and scream about it. Users want standards, period."

But at least one user is skeptical. "It's a nice feature but one that we won't really utilize for some time until the storage management software catches up," said John Welter, vice president of North West Geomatics, an aerial data acquisition company. "It had nothing to do with our purchase of the i2000 library."

Analyst Greg Schultz with the Evaluator Group agreed, "The challenge is not specific to ADIC, the challenge is to get the various software vendors to add management support to leverage the information provided by ADIC via SMI-S. While it's a good thing for ADIC or any vendor to support and provide information via SMI-S, that information is of little value unless management software tools can utilize and leverage the information provided by ADIC or other vendors."

But Whitner said he believed the management tools would be joining the party soon and pointed out that EMC Corp., one of ADIC's chief partners, already does support SMI-S in tape libraries in its Enterprise Control Center software.

He added, "AppIQ says they're working to support the 1.1 SMI-S standard. That's the version that includes tape library profiles, so my supposition is that when they get there, they will also be able to manage libraries that also support the standard."

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