Vendors demonstrate conformance to storage mgmt. spec

* Vendors conform to SMI-S

Who is up to speed when it comes to managing via the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), the ANSI standard for networked storage management being promoted by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)?  Here is the score card as things stand today.

Nine companies - AppIQ, Computer Associates, Crosswalk, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM, Sun and Veritas - have demonstrated the ability to discover objects that conform to the SMI-S.  Within this group however, there is a wide variation in capability.

Four companies clearly lead the pack, having demonstrated the ability to discover all tested aspects of arrays, switches, fabrics, and host bus adapters (HBA), the four areas under test. These four vendors are AppIQ (StorageAuthority 4.0), HDS (HiCommand Storage Services Manager 4.0), HP (HP Storage Essentials 4.0) and Sun (Enterprise Storage Manager Advanced Application 4.0). HDS, HP and Sun all use code developed by AppIQ.

Crosswalk's Storage Manager 2.0 demonstrated almost the same capability across all four areas, failing only to discover HBA Mappings to Volume LUNs, which is the ability to determine which array volumes are presently mapped to hosts.

CA, EMC, IBM and Veritas also tested their products, but with significantly less success.

Veritas (Command Central Storage 2.2) tested for discovery of arrays and fabrics, but failed to identify device serial numbers in each category.

CA (BrightStor SAN Manager 11.5), EMC (Control Center 6.0) and IBM (TotalStorage productivity Center 2.3) only tested for array discovery, passing almost all aspects in this category. CA and EMC lacked the ability to discover "Physical Disks Under a Volume", the capability to determine which physical disks are associated with a volume. IBM could not discover "Front-End Ports", the ports on the array that connect to the hosts.

What are we to conclude from this?

To begin with, it is useful to acknowledge two important things: first, at this point SNIA is only testing for device discovery only, not for performance management; and second, we should remind ourselves that these are still early days in the history of SMI-S conformance testing.

That being said, it is also clear that those storage management companies that bought-in early to the concept of storage management via the SMI-S interface have built themselves a real lead. On the one hand, it is still too early in the game to determine how significant this lead will turn out to be in the long run; on the other, it clearly never hurts to be seen as an industry leader. It is a certainty that other vendors will be testing their products in the future. We will try to track that to keep this scorecard up-to-date. 

SMI-S offers the same common ground for storage vendors that CIM, the Common Information Model, gives to systems, networks, applications and services vendors. CIM has been a success because the vendors were able to make easy use of the rich semantics of its information model, which meant that the vendors were able to produce products more economically than was previously possible. Storage vendors and their customers should expect to get the same benefits from SMI-S.

For the specifics on this round of SMI-S testing, go to the conformance testing results page at the SNIA Web site:

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.