Four data storage industry giants have joined forces to support a proposed interoperability standard and push new products based on the common set of application programming interfaces (API) contained in the protocol.
IBM Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. announced Tuesday that they will begin shipping products this year and next based on the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards.
The companies have also formed an alliance to make their CIM/WBEM APIs available to one another for testing, and they want other businesses to commit to deploying compliant products next year and conduct interoperability testing.
The CIM/WBEM standards are part of the proposed Bluefin standard, which the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) recently renamed the Storage Management Interface Specifications (SMIS). SMIS is a set of common application programming interfaces that has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of work it takes to connect products deployed in multivendor storage-area networks (SAN).
Steve Kenniston, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said the alliance goes a long way toward helping to move the draft standards proposal along by demonstrating industry support to the Internet Engineering Task Force standards body.
"The next step will be, if I'm Hitachi, how far down do I drill down into my product and allow you to manage it from a CIM compliant module?" Kenniston said.
Initially, vendors will allow competitor's products to view theirs on a network and interoperate with them. But it will still be two or three years before IBM, EMC or others supporting the Bluefin standard will allow others to autoconfigure their boxes or give them troubleshooting capabilities -- key differentiators today.
But "I believe this is a really good first step and brings CIM compliance to the forefront," Kenniston said.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hitachi, IBM, Sun and Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas are active members of SNIA and contributed to drafting the SNIA-adopted Bluefin/SMI specifications.
"This is in no way intending to detract from SNIA's efforts to promote Bluefin," said Clodoaldo Barrera, director of storage strategy in IBM's storage systems group. "If anything, we're trying to send a clear message that our companies have strong product plans and will be implementing the technology contained in Bluefin sooner than later."
In August, Sun became the first company to use the proposed CIM/WBEM standard to develop its latest version of StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager software (see story), and the company is committing to expanding ESM's CIM compliance, and introducing CIM providers for more of its hardware products, during the first half of next year.
IBM, Hitachi and Veritas all say they will have Bluefin-compliant hardware and software products shipping next year.
Specifically, Hitachi said its HiCommand Management suite of software products, announced in May, is expected to ship with its first CIM-compliant features and modules by the end of this quarter. It will continue to ship with expanded features through next year.
IBM plans to ship new high-end and midrange disk arrays, tape libraries and Tivoli storage management software based on CIM during the first half of 2003.
Veritas said it will CIM-enable its Adaptive Software Architecture through next year beginning with its SANPoint Control and Veritas Volume Manager applications.
All four companies are also expected to participate in SNIA's CIM-SAN 1 demonstration at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando at the end of this month. The CIM-SAN-1 demonstration is expected to showcase the first interoperable and open environment for storage-area management based on CIM and WBEM.