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Storage management standards become a reality

The Storage Networking Industry Association announced Tuesday that the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) has been released for public review.

PHOENIX -- Regardless of which abbreviation you associate with an open storage management standard -- CIM, WBEM, SMI-S -- brace yourself. It's here.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), an industry organization that helps educate users and guides the industry toward collaboration on networked storage issues, announced Tuesday at the Storage Networking World 2003 conference that the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) has been released for public review.

Sheila Childs, chairwoman of SNIA and vice president of product management for Legato Systems Inc., said SMI-S will shift the development of the storage industry, enable vendor "efficiencies," accelerate the delivery of interoperability, and improve the manageability of storage networks.

"At its heart, SMI-S is a specification unified on a common way to deliver value to the customer. SMI-S leaves room for vendor differentiation but makes lower-level management common," she said.

Childs added that users will be able to mix and match components from different vendors and bring legacy equipment under a single point of management.

Jerome Wendt, senior information analyst at First Data Return, is buoyed by the promise of a storage management standard.

"Our storage grows literally over night. I'm a big supporter of standards. They are one of the first steps toward helping manage the storage 'solution,'" Wendt said.

Wendt said he would be happy if he could retrieve monitoring data for 80% of his storage assets. "Most of my management applications don't need [a lot of detail]. I just need some kind of baseline to begin with. If they can just give me 80%, I can use APIs to get the rest," he said.

"I know that if it's SMI compliant, I can [get] information [out] of it simply by plugging into the interface," he added.

Zak Zacharia, CEO at BuilderDepot Inc., runs an online home improvement store a la Lowe's and Home Depot. In doing so, he has to support more than 70,000 products, 1,600 suppliers and 2,500 customers.

"I don't want to hear about the bits and bytes. I want to know how safe my investment is," he said. "Knowing that there is an organization like the SNIA working on standards and interfaces and that [something like SMI-S] is here, or very soon to be here, gives me piece of mind."

Ash Ashutosh, executive vice president and chief technology officer of AppIQ Inc., a software vendor, said that the advent of SMI-S will give users the ability to customize storage management and make storage a strategic investment, rather than a tactical purchase.

SNIA said that version 1.0 of the specification is available for public review for 45 days. During that time, SNIA hopes to discover any bugs or problems with the specification. It is available now for download on the SNIA Web site.


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

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