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Bluefin standard to make Sans compatible

One of the biggest obstacles to the widespread use of storage area networks (Sans) may soon be removed, as suppliers move towards adopting an open standard, writes Eric Doyle.

A specification, codenamed Bluefin, has been submitted to the Storage Networking Industry Association (Snia) by a consortium of some of the main players in the San market.

The proposal uses technology from the Web-Based Enterprise Management initiative which describes system resources based on a common information model devised under the Managed Object Format standard. The system will introduce new technology for security, locking and discovery for San management.

The lack of interoperability has not only curtailed San adoption but has also held back plans for storage virtualisation, where all discs, whether attached or remote subsystems, held in a San or a network-attached storage array, are managed as a single, federated storage pool.

John Webster, a senior analyst at the Data Mobility Group, said, "Managing the complexity of Sans has become a key user issue - a problem that is compounded by the multi-supplier environment most users have. Without comprehensive standards for management and testing for interoperability, users will be forced to pay artificially high prices for solutions and, as a result, will find it more difficult to achieve the promised value of storage networking."

Snia was set up in 1997 to develop a standard architecture for managing disc arrays, switches and hosts. The standards body said a common model of device behaviour and a common language to read and set control information would be a prerequisite for this.

Don Swatik, vice-president of global alliances and information sciences at storage specialist EMC, said, "The successful development of open industry standards presents a tremendous opportunity to reduce the time, effort and cost of delivering management tools for heterogeneous networked environments. If accepted by Snia, the contribution of the Bluefin specification will go a long way to getting suppliers and users well down the road towards the management of heterogeneous storage networks."

EMC has announced that Bluefin will form the basis of its forthcoming Widesky storage management middleware technology, which addresses the issues of managing a multi-supplier storage infrastructure. Other members of the Bluefin development group are expected to make product announcements when Snia gives the specification its official stamp of approval.

Companies involved in the development of Bluefin include BMC, Brocade, Computer Associates, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Gadzoox, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, JNI, Prisa Networks, QLogic, StorageTek, Sun and Veritas.

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