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API deals bring OpenView SAM 3.0 to fruition, but some users still not biting

API deals bring OpenView SAM 3.0 to fruition, but some users still not biting

CHICAGO -- Hewlett-Packard has released a major new version of its OpenView Storage Area Manager 3.0, the much-anticipated offering from the combined HP and Compaq. Announced Tuesday at the Storage Decisions 2002 user conference being held here, the suite of storage area management products takes advantage of recent API-swapping deals to offer support not only for Compaq hardware but also hardware from IBM, EMC and Hitachi.

It's in this version of OpenView SAM where the swapping of APIs (application programming interfaces) now bears fruit, said Mark Sorenson, vice president of HP's storage software division.

"This is, for users, that single pane of glass that puts them back in control of their storage," Sorenson said.

As the complexity of managing storage area networks (SANs) continues to mount for users, this new release is expected to give them some relief, experts say. The sharing of other vendors' APIs makes different platforms more compatible with each other and less complicated for users to manage.

Administrators are now using a "grab bag of tools," according to Sorenson, although it's not by design. Over the course of mergers and consolidations, shops have collected many tools from different vendors.

"We do believe this [OpenView SAM 3.0] is a significant advancement in storage resource management," he said.

Some users and analysts said, however, that while the API deals may indeed be bearing fruit, some of that fruit isn't yet ripe and certainly not ready for public consumption.

Storage administrator Joe Winiewicz of Rich Product Corp., a frozen food manufacturer in Buffalo, N.Y., said the move is a step in the right direction, but it's "not a wave of the magic wand."

"The problem is, you have to ask, which storage hardware vendors have really embraced this?" said Doug Hayward, senior principal with Technology Consulting Associates, Atlanta, Ga. "This stuff is only compatible at a certain level. Plus, you have no assurances that at some point one of the hardware vendors will pull out [of an API deal.]"

Gartner analyst Nick Allen said that the fact that the vendors are talking is a very good sign, but at this point, API-sharing doesn't bear much weight.

"These pal deals, while they're useful to vendors, are really pretty silly," Allen said. "Users should ignore the hype and demand that vendors make public their APIs."

HP is just one of a number of companies, including Brocade, IBM and Hitachi, to share APIs and, as a result, claim to be breaking down the walls of incompatibility among vendors. In addition, most of the major storage vendors have also signed on to push the Storage Networking Industry Association's (SNIA) effort -- called the Storage Management Initiative -- to create a shared management interface for SANs.

While EMC is also part of the fray, it supports the theory of reverse engineering, which essentially means that they do less API deal-cutting with rivals -- EMC just figures out the interface on its own. EMC is expected to announce enhancements tomorrow to its AutoIS storage management software, which sources say will include new resource management and virtualization software, and the ability to manage hardware from Hitachi and IBM more easily.

The new version of OpenView Storage Area Manager 3.0 also includes OpenView Storage Node Manager, OpenView Storage Allocator (formerly LUN Manager), OpenView Storage Optimizer and OpenView Storage Builder. In addition, HP has enhanced the suite to be able to handle a larger number of systems connected to a network and to enable enterprise-wide device, capacity and performance management, storage usage metering and billing, logical storage assignment and host/LUN access control.

Sorenson said users with the existing 2.2 version of OpenView SAM will be able to upgrade their software before November via downloads provided by HP, although the complete suite of products will not be available until Nov. 1.

HP also on Tuesday announced enhancements to its OpenView systems management line of products and on Wednesday the company is expected to announce a revamping of its storage strategy.

For more information

HP lays out road map, storage details to follow

OpenView 2001: HP plugs storage management tools

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