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API swap builds foundations for Bluefin storage standard

High-end storage vendors Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi have announced that they have exchanged application programming interfaces (API) on all of their large storage arrays and management software.

The API exchange will enable HP to manage Hitachi's Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 and 9900 V Series high-end storage arrays and Thunder 9200 Series midrange storage array within the HP OpenView Storage Area Management software suite.

In turn, Hitachi will be able to manage HP's StorageWorks XP and VA disk arrays and its StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array and StorageWorks Enterprise Modular Array storage systems with the Hitachi HiCommand Management software suite.

During the past couple of months, HP has exchanged high-end storage arrays APIs with IBM and EMC as a precursor to the expected emergence of the Bluefin/Common Information Model (CIM) standard by the end of the year.

"The knowledge HP is gaining through integrating API technologies from Hitachi and other companies into a common software management platform will be used to assist the industry in making Bluefin a reality," said Mark Sorenson, vice-president of HP's Storage Software Division.

"This is really a short-term tactical step to get things moving. So the other part of this is that we're also starting to enable these platforms for Bluefin/CIM," said Steve East, vice-president of storage integration at Hitachi.

East said Hitachi would begin shipping its first version of a Bluefin-compliant platform - its HiCommand Management software suite - by the end of the year. It said it would demonstrate the software at the Storage Networking World conference in Orlando next month.

Hitachi said it has agreed to exchange APIs with HP after competitors such as EMC said they would use reverse-engineering to crack management codes in order to have its management platforms control Hitachi devices.

"What that does is put the customer at risk," said Christine Wallis, senior vice-president of global strategy and planning at Hitachi. "If anything goes wrong, you want to make sure you have all the vendors standing behind the product. Reverse-engineering bypasses that. It breaks really badly the first time something goes wrong."

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is currently working to present the proposed Bluefin standard to the Internet Engineering Task Force for approval by the end of the year. Once the standard is approved, any vendors writing software or engineering hardware based on it will be able to interoperate with Bluefin-compliant products from other vendors.

The Bluefin standard is based on the CIM and Web-Based Enterprise Management standards, which support device discovery, monitoring and management and are aimed at letting IT administrators use a single set of storage management tools to control a mix of software and hardware from different vendors.

The 350-page draft specification was written by a group of 11 storage vendors, including IBM, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. The group submitted the proposed standard in May to the SNIA, which has about 300 manufacturers as members.

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