Bluefin surfaces as SMI-S

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is to demonstrate a set of open interfaces backed by the likes of...

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)  is to demonstrate a set of open interfaces backed by the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Veritas Software, EMC and IBM at its its biannual Storage Networking World conference.

Five years in development, SMI-S - formerly known as Bluefin - permits the control of heterogeneous storage by third-party storage management software packages. SMI-S will allow storage administrators to create and delete zones and volumes, as well as monitor switches, array controllers, and host bus adapters.

Enterprises will now have the ability to manage all of their storage capacity - independent of the manufacturer - with a single management framework.

HP, Veritas, EMC, and IBM have reported they will implement SMI-S interfaces in hardware and software offerings which will be available next year.

According to Larry Krantz, president of SNIA's Storage Management Forum (SMF), SMI-S is also an initiative.

SNIA has established an interoperability lab for suppliers to test their products with those of other companies. But the association is also developing compliance tests as part of its ICTP (Interoperability Compliance Testing Program).

The tests will ensure that storage components such as arrays, tape libraries, and switches have properly applied the SMI-S standard.

"We hope to bypass early-stage issues with interoperability," Kranz said, noting that past storage-centric standards such as Fibre Channel suffered initially from variations in how the standard was applied.

Hewlett-Packard and other companies are already implementing SMI-S into hardware products.

Steve Jerman, SMI-S lead architect at HP, said the company has been using the Distributed Management Task Force's WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) standard, which - together with CIM (Common Information Model) - makes up the framework for the SMI-S interfaces.

"I'm hearing that 90% of the array industry has adopted this," Jerman said.

That 90% includes EMC, which was, until recently, exploring a storage management framework which did not incorporate SMI-S.

"SMI-S helps us drive the ability to do multivendor management," said EMC director of software product marketing Barry Ader.

EMC has said it will make available "providers" for its full line of Symmetrix and Clariion storage arrays - including older models - by the end of the year. This mechanism feeds management information about a device up to a storage management software client.

In the first quarter of next year, EMC will release new SMI-S-enabled versions of its storage management software products VisualSAN, VisualSRM (Storage Resource Management), and ControlCenter.

Veritas will ensure that its storage resource software product, SANPoint Control, conforms with SMI-S by the first quarter of 2004.

But Roger Reich, senior technical director at Veritas, warned that the full spectrum of SMI-S capabilities will not be realised for some time.

"We're asking storage firms to re-engineer products, which is a very long and daunting process," he said.

SNIA acknowledges that SMI-S interfaces are not functionally complete and that suppliers will need to offer existing proprietary interfaces as standard interfaces for special functions.

"Our target is to cover 80% of storage management functions," Krantz said.

Krantz singled out replication services and multipathing as important storage functionalities that need to be included in future releases of SMI-S. SNIA is also looking to expand the interface itself to include support for NAS appliances and will add a locking functionality that permits two different software clients access to the same piece of hardware.

Meanwhile, Brocade Communications Systems has added multiprotocol support to its forthcoming Brocade SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform. The company has added support for FC-to-FC routing, iSCSI-to-FC bridging, and FC-IP for San extension over distance.

Hewlett-Packard will also announce the availability of Command View Eva 3.0, its first SMI-S enabled storage management solution. The software enables storage administrators to cluster data, LUN creation, copy service, and LUN mapping and masking.

Scott Tyler Shafer writes for infoWorld

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