IBM and Hitachi work to open storage systems

IBM and Hitachi this week announced separate plans to support a new set of standards that promise to ease storage management and make administrators' lives easier.

IBM and Hitachi laid out detailed roadmaps for adding new management protocols into their storage hardware and software products. Both companies plan to deliver products next year that follow the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards, which are designed to make it easier for customers to manage storage networks made up of hardware from a variety of vendors.

IBM and Hitachi made their respective announcements at the Storage Networking World conference being held this week in Orlando, FloridaIBM and Hitachi, like most major vendors in the storage business, are working to open up their storage management platforms for SANs (storage area networks) in an effort to help users who may have struggled to link hardware and software from a variety of vendors. The companies have turned to the CIM and WBEM technology to create a standard way of letting their products communicate with products from other vendors.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, has started a program to let ISVs (independent software vendors) test their applications with hardware and software from IBM that supports the CIM and WBEM standards. This could help the ISVs to create management products with tight links to IBM gear, said Jim Kelly, vice president of enterprise storage products.

Some of the partners involved in the project in IBM's program include BMC Software Inc., Computer Associates International Inc. and Veritas Corp.

IBM will demonstrate its Enterprise Storage Server and Ultrium tape library being managed by a CIM-ready version of the Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager product at the conference. IBM plans to have CIM-compliant products out in the first half of next year, Kelly said.

In a separate move, IBM announced plans to double the capacity of its TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server, better known as Shark. Both the Model 800 and 800 Turbo systems will be available in November with 146G-byte drives, brining the total capacity of the system to an impressive 56T bytes, Kelly said.

When the new drives arrive, IBM also plans to provide its customers with better software management tools for the Shark products. Administrators will be able to write scripts that automate repetitive commands. Customers will be able to use the scripts to discover information about the status of devices connected in a SAN, check the amount of storage space available on disks and free up more capacity for applications.

Similarly, Hitachi demonstrated its CIM-compliant HiCommand Device Manager working with storage products from other vendors. Hitachi should release the product, which allows users to set up policies for automating storage management, by the end of the year, said Phil Townsend, senior director of product marketing at Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS), a subsidiary of Hitachi. More CIM complaint products should arrive by the first quarter of next year.

HDS, in Santa Clara, California, has also formed a new Global Solution Services organization. The group will offer services around managing SANs and related software, Townsend said. HDS has previously been offering services outside of its area of storage expertise, helping customers with tasks such as database installation.

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