DALLAS -- Hitachi Data Systems will announce next Tuesday support for the Common Information Model (CIM), an open standard for data management developed in part by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).
Hitachi is one of a number of companies here at the Veritas Vision 2002 user conference extolling the virtues of the common management standard.
"The world is moving to standards," said Dave Robinson, COO, Hitachi during his keynote speech Wednesday. "A number of vendors are using it and that's why we're fully supporting it."
The standard, which was first demonstrated by SNIA back in 1999, has been gaining momentum during the past year. While Compaq Computer Corp. was an early adopter, many other major players, including IBM, EMC Corp., Sun Microsystems, Veritas Software, Brocade Communications and Hewlett-Packard Co., have committed to supporting the interface standard as well.
"We're starting to see adoption of this standard come to fruition," said Robin Purohit, vice president of product management, Veritas. "And, we expect to see products shipping with this standard within the next six months to a year."
According to SNIA, 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.
Industry experts contend that both users and vendors benefit from the adoption of CIM through reduced integration costs, faster time to market and faster customer adoption.
In essence, CIM reduces the number of specifications that need to be translated. As more companies adopt the CIM standard, the list of specifications that need to be translated will be reduced.
According to Purohit, vendors really like the CIM standard because it lets them standardize a portion of the software or hardware without giving up the farm. Upshot: Some specs can remain proprietary.
"It allows them to give that value add," Purohit said.
That ability to build into that piece of the module is one of the reasons Hitachi is supporting the standard.
"You can be open to standards and still protect your investment," Roberson said.
According to Fred Broussard, an analyst with IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based research firm, CIM was slow to take off at first, but now that so many major players have announced support for the standard, CIM will really take off.
"The more players you have, the better off the user," Broussard said.
Broussard likened standards to fast-food restaurants. "It's like going to McDonald's. You may not like the food, but you know what to expect. CIM, like other standards, gives everyone access to the same tools. There are no surprises. It's a level playing field."
But, talk of the standard for some users is new and for many, this conference was the first they heard about it. But, what they heard makes them hopeful.
"There's so many tools that don't work together," said Wolfgang Strobel, business consultant for Synstar International. "It would be helpful if we could manage it all centrally. The reason there's not much use of SANs is because of the difficulty in getting it all together. Now, maybe this will be open standards as it was meant to be."
Users are also hoping a common management standard will eliminate the need to change entire configurations when there's just one system upgrade.
Johannes Burkle, account manager, Riess Integration, said that with hardware and software upgrades happening so frequently, it's very hard to keep pace. The problem, he said, is that the upgrade of one system often means reconfiguring 50 others. He said he believes a common management standard would make those upgrades less traumatic to the overall infrastructure.
"As soon as the market leaders accept it, then the customers will accept it," Burkle said.
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