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IBM recruits ISVs to work on Bluefin spec

IBM will announce on Tuesday plans to give software developers a head start on developing CIM management products for Shark.

IBM will announce on Tuesday an initiative aimed at speeding the delivery of interoperable storage management products that use the Bluefin specification.

IBM said it is working with independent software vendors by giving them early access to IBM's Bluefin implementations on its disk and tape products and on IBM Tivoli software products.

"Bluefin" is the code name for the specification endorsed by Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to help customers manage data in a multivendor storage area network using Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards.

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

"What's new here is that we have taken the Bluefin spec and the entire CIM model and put an initiative together. We have a stable of ISVs working with us with early access code to our implementation of the specification," said Jim Kelly, vice president of marketing for IBM's storage systems group.

"We will announce [products] and ship very quickly," Kelly said. "In the first half of next year we will have products rolling out, including Shark and Tivoli software with CIM capabilities."

The program's design is to use the standards to help promote interoperability, as well as high function and control between IBM and other vendors' products. IBM is sharing information about the CIM WBEM implementations with BMC Software Corp., Computer Associates International Inc., Legato Systems Inc., Veritas Software Corp. and others.

Last week, EMC announced its own CIM developer's program. The Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage specialist made strides toward compatibility by adding CIM management to its WideSky Developers Suite, offered through the EMC Developers Program. EMC stated that its program is aimed at enabling software and hardware developers, along with customers, to build interoperable automated networked storage environments.

"I think everybody, including EMC, is rallying around CIM [and] Bluefin," said Mike Fisch, senior analyst with the Clipper Group, Wellesley, Mass. "It will be a standard interface for managing storage devices, which is a good and much-needed thing."

Fisch said EMC's WideSky interface is broader in scope and that it functions as a superset of CIM/Bluefin. He said WideSky covers not only storage devices, but also switches, HBAs, operating systems, volume managers, file systems and even applications.

"If you're an ISV, you have a dilemma. Do you go with the more limited but open CIM/Bluefin interface or EMC's much broader but proprietary WideSky?" he said.

A true interoperability effort within the industry wouldn't be complete without some competition. While the vendors are all pushing for CIM/Bluefin-compliant storage hardware and software, it appears two different camps have arisen, with EMC on one side and IBM, Hitachi Data Systems Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Veritas on the other.

Earlier this month, the latter group of companies issued a joint press release announcing "an effort dedicated to the progress of CIM, Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology and Storage Management Initiative (SMI) specifications for management in storage area networks."

As part of this effort, the companies pledged to roll out CIM/WBEM-based products sometime during 2003. Companies participating in the effort, which is open to all storage vendors, are required to make a public commitment to deploy open storage networks.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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