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SNIA takes open management to the next level

The Storage Networking Industry Association is entering "phase two" of its Storage Management Initiative program. The SMI holds the key to open storage management based on the CIM and WBEM specifications.

The Storage Networking Industry Association announced last week that it has entered the next phase of open management standards development by starting the CIM-SAN-2 Developers Demonstration Program.

CIM SAN 2: The game plan
The SM-Forum members have accelerated the enhancement and functionality of CIM-SAN-2 by incorporating new security, discovery and management features.

According to SNIA, the following new features will be available with CIM-SAN-2:

Array volume creation – creating logical volumes in arrays and virtualizers and making them available for use by hosts.

Array LUN masking – a security function that controls visibility of logical volumes to hosts.

Array snapshot and mirror control – creating, splitting and synchronizing snapshots and mirrored volume.

Fabric topology and zoning discovery – facilitates the discovery of how devices are connected to switches and their zoning parameters.

"We're explicitly going to show active management, which includes being able to create LUNs on the array side and zones on the switch side," said Jerry Duggan, chair of the SM-Forum Interoperability Committee and a senior engineer at Hewlett-Packard Co.

According to Duggan, SNIA's technical work groups have completed their initial review of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) document and have begun a testing cycle as part of the newly formed Storage Management Forum (SM-Forum)-sponsored CIM-SAN-2 Developers Demonstration Program.

The six month-long Developers Demonstration Program includes a series of plug-fests and public demonstrations that focus specifically on refining and tuning the technical progress of the CIM/WBEM-based SNIA SMI-Specification.

The SM-Forum members have accelerated the enhancement and functionality of CIM-SAN-2 by adding security, discovery and management features such as array volume creation, LUN masking, snapshot and mirror control, fabric topology and zoning discovery.

Duggan described the first CIM-SAN program as an admittedly ad hoc group. SNIA worked to get hardware vendors to ship their respective storage systems to a single location and then set up a "stable" environment at the SNIA technology center, where CIM/WBEM testing could be done.

"From a functionality perspective, we could only perform read-only functions," Duggan said. "The development process was not that bad, but it had that flavor of 'let's get together and see what we can do.'"

Duggan said the same number of vendors are involved this time around, but there are some different names because of recent acquisitions.

"We're going to address more functionality with new blood and focus on a better process," he said.

Duggan said the CIM-SAN developers are finding problems, which is exactly what the group has been created to do.

"There are interoperability problems in the core technology. We're finding scenarios … that nobody ever thought of," Duggan said. Now, he said, the process of "hygiene," that is, cleaning up the specification to take those problems into account, has begun.

WBEM is a standard set of Web-based enterprise management tools that unify management of enterprise computing environments. WBEM includes CIM, which acts as an encoding specification based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) and a transport mechanism based on Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP), according to SNIA. CIM is an object-oriented information model that provides a conceptual view of physical and logical system components.

John Webster, senior storage analyst and cofounder of the Data Mobility Group Inc., Nashua, N.H., said CIM-SAN-2 is a more professional, more rigorous and more in-depth effort that includes more vendors and more solutions. The good news, he said, is that there was a greater degree of implementation consistency among participating vendors, in spite of there being more solutions and vendors in the mix.

"There are still some issues, for example, with regard to LUN masking, that require some tweaking of the specification," Webster said. "However, at this point, no one involved foresees a need to make even minor changes to the overall model."

Webster said there was an initial step forward followed by a half-step backward, but now it's full speed ahead.

Webster said the recent rash of vendors claiming that they had CIM-enabled products was spawned by end-user requirements. He said some users require SMI-S compliance in product road maps.

"In general, users want to know where their installed as well as prospective vendors are going with product directions," Webster said. "Ultimately, the user community casts the final and deciding vote as to whether or not SMI-S succeeds."

SNIA predicts storage products based on the SMI specification will roll out by the end of 2003.

The list of storage vendors participating in CIM-SAN-2 includes AppIQ, Brocade Communications Systems, Cisco Systems, CommVault Systems, Computer Associates, CreekPath Systems, EMC, Fujitsu Softek, Hitachi Data Systems Corp., Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Inrange Technologies, LSI Logic, McData, Network Appliance, QLogic, StorageTek, Sun Microsystems and Veritas Software.

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


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