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SNIA seeks user input on SAN design

SNIA has begun a campaign to enlist the aide of storage pros in deciding which storage configurations need the attention of the Supported Solutions Forum (SSF), a SNIA subgroup.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), the umbrella group for all things storage, wants more storage administrators, storage area network (SAN) architects and storage networking consultants to voice their ideas and opinions on which storage configurations need the attention of the Supported Solutions Forum (SSF), a SNIA subgroup.

Last April, the SNIA announced the creation of an executive council made up entirely of storage users, but the group has had a tough time recruiting storage professionals to the foray.

Now, the SSF has begun a marketing campaign geared toward generating awareness of and access to the SSF in order to gain the participation of storage customers, in addition to recruiting new members.

"They are not getting enough real user input as of yet but are making progress," said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass. "The bottom line is that this is still a vendor thing for the most part, which is step one."

"The Supported Solutions Forum has wanted to create a channel for end user input so that they can more readily know end user pain points and where their energies should be focused," said Tom Clark, a member of the SNIA's board of directors and technical marketing manager for Nishan Systems Inc.

The SNIA has set up ways for users to get involved in the organization. The Consumer Executive Council (CEC) is a high-level strategic committee made up of CIOs and CTOs. Its focus is mostly on how storage relates to business applications. The other input for user participation is the newly created Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) which, according to Clark, is a technical group. "The CAC is recruiting people with day-to-day hands-on storage responsibilities like SAN architects, storage administrators, even consultants; people with first-level responsibility for storage," he said.

Clark said that part of the mission of the SNIA is to promote shared storage solutions, but that it has always been missing a way for end users to feed their issues directly into the industry. "Every large company has its own end user council of some kind [that] captures that information and uses it to design its own products," Clark said. "This will be industry-level, and the [user's opinions] will be disseminated back, unfiltered, to SNIA subgroups. It's not screened by proprietary vendor interests. We'll take the good [feedback] along with the bad and channel that back."

The Supported Solutions Forum promotes customer adoption of storage networking configurations by certifying them as interoperable. The SSF storage area network configurations come with the guarantee that the vendors involved will jointly support all hardware and software in the configuration, even if it's from a competitor.

Six SNIA members established the SSF in June 2001. The SSF is a consortium of 34 member companies. In its first year, the SSF established a process for reviewing and registering storage configurations, created a cooperative support structure for multi-vendor storage environments, and registered configurations that included multi-vendor disk and tape products interoperating in several different environments.

The stated goal of the Consumer Executive Council (CEC) was to provide end user requirements for storage networking technologies to the SNIA and to push the SNIA to align itself with issues important to users.

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


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