SNIA furthers interoperability efforts

Those of you with an interest in IT humour might remember the old joke about standards: "Sure standards are good. That's why we have so many of them!"

If you have any sense of history however, you may remember that in the old days when we said this, we winced.

Happily, nowadays standards are much more standardized, and even somewhat less open to interpretation.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) continues its efforts - its very good efforts, I might add - to make networked storage interoperable as soon as it comes out of the box, no matter which vendor shipped that box in the first place.

SNIA - now comprised of more than 300 member companies that build storage software and hardware - has been around for the better part of a decade now. It originated at a time when storage-area networks (SAN) for open system environments were in their infancy, when each company did its interoperability testing on its own as best it could, when existing specifications were open to lots of interpretation (often, this is still the case), and when competitors saw no reason whatsoever to share anything with one another.

As a result, if you didn't order a preconfigured SAN you were taking your life in your hands.

SNIA members have long since come to realize that there is plenty of business out there for most of them if they can just get this interoperability thing right, and that is what they continue to do. The common goal now is to advance the adoption of storage networks as complete and trusted solutions. Markets and demand will then expand to make use of what the vendors are offering.

SNIA developed the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), an interoperability spec that addresses most of the interoperability problems the vendors have been dealing with. In conjunction with the SMI-S standard, the group has also launched a series of "SMI Labs" at the SNIA's Technology Center in Colorado Springs.

The latest of these labs is SMI Lab5, which will provide an environment for testing health and fault management, performance monitoring, security and volume management, and additional networked-attached storage (NAS) management profiles.

The predecessor, Lab4, took on three tasks: ensuring that SMI-S was consistently implemented and interpreted across all participating vendor storage devices; demonstrating that the scalability features of SMI-S enable storage software to manage very large-scale SANs; and demonstrating how the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted network protocol could manage the communications between server and storage devices.

Lab5 will be the proving ground for the upcoming SMI-S Version 1.1 release. Perhaps most significantly, it will demonstrate how SMI-S can be used to manage global data centers. To address this purpose, several further technologies have been added to the interoperability mix. These include tape libraries, iSCSI, host bus adapters, and new client applications, as well as the capability to test and demonstrate long-distance storage administration and management over IP.

Vendors participating in SMI Lab5 are 3Pardata, Adaptec, ADIC, AppIQ, Ario Data Networks, Brocade, Cisco, CNT, CA, CreekPath, CrossWalk, EMC, Emulex, Engenio, HP, HDS, IBM, iStor, McData, Network Appliance, Qlogic, Softek, Storability, StorageTek, Sun, Veritas and Xyratex.

For more details on SNIA SMI Lab activities, go to:
http://www.snia.org/smi/tech_activities/smilab/

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