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Sun, IBM storage alliance folds, but SNIA's CIM group forges on

As the Storage Networking Industry Association's (SNIA's) open storage management initiative steams ahead, a recent report of an industry alliance's dissolution has raised questions about the development of the Common Information Model (CIM) and Bluefin specifications.

Members of the alliance in question, however, say the situation has been exaggerated and that the CIM effort is very much afloat.

The alliance, formed just last month, was made up of Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS), IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. Its purpose was to accelerate the development of Common Information Model (CIM), Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technology and Storage Management Initiative (SMI) specifications for management in storage area networks (SANs).

The companies made a joint pledge to ship CIM-enabled products in 2003. The only requirement for membership, which was open to all storage vendors, was a public commitment to deploy open storage networks based on CIM/WBEM standards by next year.

"These four companies, all who have a lot of influence in the storage market, wanted to push CIM a little faster than [the] SNIA," said Steve Kenniston, a senior analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass.

The quartet had teamed up to say that CIM is important and that they would be working together to make sure CIM-based technology gets to customers fast.

Mark Carlson, senior architect for Sun's Network Storage Group, said the alliance was not meant to be at odds with SNIA's work but rather to put concrete CIM product plans in place behind the initiative.

"These companies got together and said: 'We need to put some more emphasis and say these are real products that are going to be shipping,'" Carlson said.

Kenniston said that Sun, IBM, HDS and Veritas were not out to change what the SNIA was doing but to complement its efforts.

"Now that SNIA is moving the [CIM] effort forward at a better clip, the group believes that its alliance was confusing to customers and the industry as a whole. Kenniston said the companies are still working together as planned, but without all of the media hype.

There was a perception that HDS, IBM, Sun and Veritas were trying to form their own group that was doing the same thing that SNIA was doing. Actually, it was never meant to duplicate SNIA's work - just reinforce it.

"To be clear, there never were two groups doing anything here," Kenniston said.

IBM, HDS and Veritas could not be reached for comment.

On the heels of the group's creation, the SNIA created a new body aimed at driving the adoption of technologies and interoperability, called the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) Forum.

The SMI Forum's goal is to foster broad adoption of SNIA and complementary industry standards from which vendors can build interoperable management applications for multivendor storage networks. The forum will initially focus on the promotion of the SNIA's SMI Specification for SAN-based storage management, based upon the Bluefin specification.

The specification will define how the CIM, WBEM and component technologies interoperate. By conforming to the SMI Specification, companies will be able to develop their products to a single standard interface, eliminating the current requirement for developing to several proprietary interfaces, according to the SNIA Web site.

Randy Kerns, a senior analyst with Evaluator Group Inc. in Boulder, Colo., said that many other storage vendors embraced SMI and are committed to supporting CIM and Bluefin. Having a separate consortium served no purpose and would only appear to be a publicity move, he said.

"Very correctly, the companies dropped that and became part of the mainstream," Kerns said.


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Let us know what you think of this story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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