SAN alliance for standards unveiled

Heavyweights from the storage area network (SAN) industry -- including EMC, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer and StorageTek -- yesterday announced an agreement to work together toward developing interoperable device standards to foster the growth of SANs as a whole.

The vendors will work through the auspices of the previously established Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to build a common interface module for network storage; a Simple Network Management Protocol Management Information Base, for fibre channel storage devices; and a disk resource management architecture, said Compaq representative Darrin Thomas, who is vice president of the company's multi-vendor storage business unit. Deliverables resulting from the initiative are expected later this year, he said.

"We believe if we don't come together and really propagate these things rapidly, ultimately customers won't benefit from the opportunity that standards provide," Thomas said.

Analysts agreed on the criticality of standards for SANs.

"Cooperation is needed in the community to help push standards forward," said Kris Newton, a research manager at Strategic Research, a market research company based in Santa Barbara, California. "Right now, there's no true interoperability, so as an end user, if you want a storage area network you need to go to one supplier who will have pre-tested all the interoperability issues."

As part of the SNIA efforts, the technologies underpinning Sun Microsystems' StoreX Java-based SAN initiative, and EMC's Fibre Alliance for storage management will be considered by the other SNIA members.

Other participants in the SNIA plan include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sequent Computer Systems, Brocade Communications, Legato Systems, and Veritas Software.

The Storage Networking Industry Association can be reached at

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