The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has announced that it is well on its way to developing an interface standard that would allow companies to perform internal searches for any data using Google-like tools, based on metadata associated with a file, image, audio file, database or even email.
The proposed standard, called Extensible Access Method (XAM), is focused on searching fixed content and is expected to allow users to find information across multivendor disk and tape systems to retrieve data requested by regulators or for legal discovery purposes.
"If you've got 19 days to provide information to somebody, you can use these common API sets to access the data," technology strategist and vice-chairman of the board for SNIA, Matt Brisse, said at Storage Networking World in San Diego.
The standard could also allow a hospital to retrieve a patient's old X-rays, as well as any electronic documents associated with it, such as doctors' notes.
CIO of DXP Enterprises, Suzie Dahle,said being able to search data and restore it piecemeal versus having to restore an entire database, would greatly reduce the labor involved with data restores.
Brisse said 36 of SNIA's member companies are working on the XAM interface. SNIA's Fixed Content Aware Storage Technical Working Group expects to demonstrate the standard in early 2007.
A member of SNIA's board of directors, Ray Dunn, said the group was working on three separate updated versions of the Storage Management Initiative Specification, or SMI-S, which defines the way multivendor systems communicate with each other. SNIA is currently working to get versions of SMI-S ratified as an international standard by the International Standards Organisation.
Dunn said Version 1.02 is being reviewed by SNIA members, and Version 1.03 has just been ratified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is being pushed to the International Standards Organisation for ratification. Version 1.1 is on track to be submitted to the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards for ratification as an ANSI standard.
Dunn said SNIA was particularly focused on Version 1.1 of SMI-S, which defined interfaces between network-attached storage and iSCSI-based devices. SMI-S v1.1 dealt with device descriptions and the services associated with them, such as copying data from one array to another.
"It will have the capability of copying data from one host to another, regardless of the vendor," Dunn said.
DXP Enterprises, which distributes maintenance, repair, and operating equipment and products to industries such as oil and gas companies, recently installed a disaster recovery architecture that includes NAS arrays that replicate data between two sites 365km miles apart.
Dahle said she was happy to hear the SNIA was developing replication standards because while you could get the data over there, it didn't necessarily mean it was usable or it was right. You had to be able to work on both sides of that.