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SNIA – Where interoperability works

Oct 14, 20032 mins
Data Center

* SNIA's SMI-S spec is backbone to EMC's compatibility work with IBM

The Storage Networking Industry Association is an organization that focuses on promoting networked storage.  Nowhere is its success and value to the IT community more apparent than in its efforts to promote interoperability.

SNIA-sponsored interoperability plugfests, plus demos at several major trade shows (including Storage Networking World in Orlando later this month), have gone a long way towards demonstrating that interoperability is not just a wave of the future.  With an increasing number of vendors and products supporting the SNIA, interoperability has become a wave of the present as well.

Two factors are contributing mightily to SNIA’s success in making networked storage hardware manageable.

The first is the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), an open specification that defines the architecture for commands used in managing SANs. The first release of the architecture was approved as a standard this summer, and the first revision of the architecture (Release 1.0.1) is currently in review.

Has this been a success?  At the very least it is a success-in-progress. Consider the following.

Last week EMC and IBM, historically not the greatest of friends, announced they would work towards providing interoperability and compatibility for their respective storage systems, servers and software.  The medium for this interoperability: SMI-S.

If you are wondering about the value of this to your site, just consider the advantages associated with being able to manage EMC’s Symmetrix and IBM’s Shark (officially, the “Enterprise Storage Server”) using a single management tool. 

At the same time as the SMI-S spec was being rolled out, SNIA also launched the Interoperability Conformance Test Program (ICTP). ICTP is a set of test suites covering SMI-S that have been developed and are operated by SNIA. The ICTP test suite has been designed to be a neutral process for testing compliance of a vendor’s SMI-S implementations.

If all this is beginning to make you think that progress is being made, you are absolutely right.  But the journey has just begun, and will continue as long as vendors continue to bring storage-area network-based storage products into the market place.

A final note: SNIA provides training and certification for IT professionals working in the field of Fibre Channel SANs.  If you will be at SNW Oct. 27-30, attend one of SNIA’s Birds of a Feather Certification Sessions in the late afternoon.  I’ll be presenting there as well, so if you see me please stop and say hello.