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Jumping Jiro beans: Support for new release expected to leap ahead

Sun Microsystems has announced that its latest version of Jiro technology, developed for building interoperable storage management solutions, will be released at the end of March. Sun believes the new release will fuel support for the Java-based technology.

In addition, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company also added a pair of vendors to the list of those offering Jiro certified storage products.

The new Jiro technology 1.5 release will be available to developers March 30, in the form of a free download under the Sun Community Source License (SCSL), and, according to the company, packs a number of enhancements like new installation and administration tools to help system administrators set up, run and manage Jiro technology domains; new programming tools help developers create Jiro technology dynamic management services, which are also known as FederatedBeans components.

Jiro technology was developed through an industry-wide initiative and through an open forum in the Java Community Process (JCP) program. Based on the Java 2 platform, Jiro technology is a freely available set of APIs (application program interfaces) that helps provide developers with an infrastructure for building interoperable end-to-end storage management solutions for complex distributed environments. The technology provides a middle layer of components and services that facilitate connectivity between managed resources and management applications. These resources can be located anywhere on a corporate network, connected with any combination of routers and hubs and using any standard management protocol, such as the Web Based Enterprise Management Protocol (WBEM) or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). Sun claims the complete Jiro technology architecture will also include support for other industry standard APIs and protocols, and extensions for additional security and storage network specific functionality.

The goal of Jiro is to take storage management to a platform-independent component level to facilitate integration of network-based storage resources and automate manual administrative tasks, thereby reducing the cost and complexity of storage management while increasing reliability and availability of data.

"It's about managing storage with a common denominator," said Amy Lynch, product line manager for Sun. "[Jiro] provides base services so that anybody developing storage applications doesn't have to start from scratch."

Lynch believes that Jiro is only now gaining real industry support and momentum due to Sun's reputation for proprietary solutions.

"It has been slow on the uptake because it's a hard technology to explain. People automatically think 'that's going to be a closed solution because its Sun.' It's difficult to gain momentum until you get the first couple of people on board, and we've got that now."

Yankee Group analyst William Hurley said there are other factors that have contributed to the slow start for Jiro adoption. "The main reason is that Jiro's not done yet. The product roadmap has lacked definition."

Hurley also points to the emergence of turf wars in the storage resource management (SRM) arena that are following past technologies down the road to interoperability problems and leaving end-users indecisive as to which vendor to buy. IBM, Compaq, HP and a slew of other storage companies want a slice of the SRM pie.

"We're starting to see issues, just like we did with Fibre Channel, with proprietary software and interoperability in storage resource management applications. Yet again the storage industry is hampering its ability [to bring these applications to market]," Hurley said.

Some of the basic management functions supplied by Jiro include fault notification, scheduling, distributed logging, and transaction rollback. In addition, the technology provides enterprise-wide discovery and lookup, which enable devices to transparently connect to the network and identify themselves as available resources to other devices and management tools. The collective group of devices can act as a single, logical unit for management applications.

Storage Technology Corp.'s (StorageTek) Horizon Library Observer 1.0 and QLogic Corp.'s SANbox switches have achieved Jiro Enabled Certification. StorageTek and QLogic join Sun, Veritas Software, Crossroads Systems and BMC Software as companies offering products that are Jiro technology-enabled.

StorageTek's Horizon Library Observer, the first Jiro technology-enabled tape product, monitors the StorageTek family of tape libraries. The StorageTek Jiro technology management fa?e, which is based on the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Media Library model, allows StorageTek libraries to interoperate with other Jiro-enabled devices and applications.

Jiro technology lets QLogic's Fibre Channel SANbox switches integrate into Jiro technology-enabled environments and allows Jiro -enabled management applications to configure and monitor the performance of the switches in real time.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

For more information:

The Jiro technology homepage

Sun Community Source License (SCSL) downloads page

Sun's Jiro Specification to Enhance SAN Management

Dig Deeper on Storage management tools

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