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SNIA leader upbeat on open management standards

All signs point to an open management specification becoming a standard by the end of the year and, with vendors already claiming Bluefin support, wanted to get the skinny from the top industry organization on the status of the Storage Management Initiative.

Sheila Childs, chairman of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), the industry's umbrella group for all things storage, gave us a peek under the covers at what the SNIA has accomplished, what's left to be done and whether the SNIA has plans to absorb any other storage networking organizations.

What progress has been made on the open storage management front (i.e., the Common Information Model, Bluefin, etc.)?
We received the specification, which is called Bluefin, almost a year ago. We've made some tremendous strides in member adoption and mind share. [The SNIA] has worked diligently on version 1.0 of the specification. We plan on making the specification available for public review [next month]. CIM SAN 1 was demoed last fall and CIM SAN 2 will be demonstrated this spring. CIM SAN 1 was set up to test functionality that is solid within the specification. Now companies can build on that topology. CIM SAN 2 is doing things like LUN mapping and zoning. What has the Storage Networking Industry Association accomplished in the past six months? What work is slated for the balance of this year?
We have gotten some tremendous momentum going with our Storage Management Initiative program. It is our No. 1 strategic initiative for this year. It's a multi-year project. In terms of a long-term road map for the SNIA, we have an interest in security and have set up a technical working group and a [security] forum. Has the SNIA been successful in recruiting end users to participate in the organization? Of the end users who have joined the SNIA, what roles do they play?
We have been quite successful. We have set up executive and advisory councils comprised of executives, technical engineers and system administrators. We just put the Customer Focus Council (CFC) in place to oversee customer activities. Customer groups are sprouting up all over. We do not have a large membership in [the] Consumer Executive Council and the Consumer Advisory Council, but the people we do have are outstanding. Recruiting users is always a challenge for us because they have day jobs. They have been giving us a lot of feedback on our certification programs. When can users expect to see the fruits of this labor in the form of usable storage management products on the market?
All of the major vendors are involved in the Storage Management Initiative. Standing up and saying that is one thing, but building the products takes a while. We have good commitments from major vendors, and it's just a matter of rolling [the products] out. We're also working on an Interoperability Conformance Testing Program (ICTP). The SNIA will build conformance tests that are released with the SMI specification, so that vendors can run their code against them to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the specification. In the same timeframe, we plan on putting together a certification program so customers can evaluate whether vendors are conforming to the specification as well. What work, if any, remains around iSCSI and other IP storage protocols like FCIP and iFCP?
We will come out in support of all of the different IP storage protocols. We have technical working groups working on those efforts. The Storage Networking Industry Association Europe and the Fibre Channel Industry Association Europe just merged. Why? Will this happen in the United States? What is this indicative of, in terms of the overall storage networking industry and its relationship to Fibre Channel?
The dynamics in Europe are very different than that of the United States. The work efforts are different. The Europe groups have been more focused on marketing than on technical work. In Europe, there was a lot of duplication of effort, in as far as what they were working on. There was also a lot of member overlap. They merged without any assistance from us. We have been watching this and advising them. They are now going through all of the processes of a corporate merger, even though they are nonprofit organizations. It's indicative of the fact that the SNIA supports Fibre Channel technology as well as others that are solid. It's not a technological holy war here. Both groups are complementary and work together well. We haven't seen the need to merge the two groups here in the U.S., but you never know what the future will bring.

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


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