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Vendors march toward CIM management standard

A group of vendors including EMC, HP, Sun and Veritas presented a unified front at the Storage Networking World conference by backing the Common Information Model as the only way out of the storage management dilemma.

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- In a rare display of unity, a collection of hardware and software vendors told an audience at the Storage Networking World conference here, that an open, common interface for the management of multi-vendor storage networks is a necessity. And they had the technology to back it up.

Under the umbrella of the Storage Networking Industry Association, vendors including Brocade Communications Systems Inc., EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Prisa Networks Inc., and Sun Microsystems Inc., and other member companies demonstrated a heterogeneous networked storage configuration that used the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology as a basis for Storage Area Management (SAM). The goal of which was to prove that customers can manage multi-vendor products with a single management application.

The configuration demonstrated volume management, LUN masking/mapping, asset management and event monitoring using clients and servers from thirteen different manufacturers.

SNIA said CIM acts as a superset of all existing storage hardware and software functionality that is independent of platform, transport and works entirely over the Internet.

"CIM/WBEM is now commercially viable and ready for development," said James Staten, vice president of strategy, Sun Microsystems. "Vendors can start writing CIM-based applications today."

Staten said the industry is now at the crux where it can say to customers "yes, interoperability is coming."

"We have a very long list of vendors that we have to try and integrate. It's the number one issue costing money, time and people resources," said Alan Shockley, manager of enterprise IT for EDS, one of the largest storage users in the world.

Shockley said what he and other users need to manage networked storage is not what they are getting from vendors.

"We're getting spotty coverage with point products and there's way too much connection work to be done," said Shockley. "We're still working too hard to integrate software."

"We need a simple, common way to get at information no matter where it resides and manage it," said Shockley.

Participation in the push toward a CIM standard does put vendors at risk for increased competition, but according to experts, the benefits outweigh the risks.

"The advantages of adopting CIM are reduced integration costs, faster time to market and faster customer adoption. All of which lead to a larger market," said John Webster, senior analyst, Illuminata Inc., Nashua, N.H.

Even EMC is getting on board with the CIM movement.

"For us CIM represents a benefit to the customer, our business model and the industry as a whole," Chuck Hollis, vice president of markets and products, EMC Corp.

Hollis said leveraging the CIM model will accelerate EMC's research and development and help them avoid "brute force" reverse engineering of APIs.

"If we fail to adopt this we will constrain both customer growth and our own growth," said Tom Rallens, vice president of marketing for HP's Networked Storage Solutions Organization. "HP is committed to CIM. We see it as the only way out."

The SNIA hopes that member companies will be rolling out CIM/WBEM-based hardware and software products within the next 12 to 16 months.

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


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