Interoperability woes hinder SAN projects

Interoperability between vendor offerings – or the lack of it – plus high infrastructure costs hamper SAN implementations and make standards development critical, storage management forum chairman Ray Dunn said last week.

The forum is part of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Australia and New Zealand chapter which is supporting a new specification known as the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), a uniform standard interface for managing storage devices.

Dunn said the specification will lead to a greater uptake of SANs and lower costs.

He agreed with claims made earlier this month by Jon Toigo, chairman of the US-based Data Management Institute, that storage technologies won't be taken seriously until industry-wide standards are adopted

"The overhead and complexity of storage has created agent proliferation and islands of data, just what a SAN is supposed to fix," Dunn said.

"Now that we've reached the desired stage where vendors are incorporating the SMI-S standard into their products, a user can begin to select SAN components using standardized features for discovery, LUN mapping and masking and creating storage pools."

SMI-S v1.02 is incorporated in more than 100 different storage devices from 14 vendors with clear support for NAS and iSCSI (Internet SCSI) protocols.

On the subject of information lifecycle management (ILM), Dunn said the management of content is now of strategic importance to the enterprise.

"SMI-S is creating standardized models for managing data movement that will assist in creating interoperability for the elements of data management," he said.

"What is needed are classification systems as well as policy-driven engines to cause data movement to occur so that cost benefits can be realised."

Andrew Manners, vice chairman of SNIA ANZ, said the introduction of SMI-S is huge.

For the first time, Manners said, customers can purchase products built using a tested and standardized management interface to aid in the management and deployment of multi-vendor environments.

He said SMI-S will be widely adopted in all new products by the end of 2005.

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