By Dave Simpson
End users and vendors agree that standards such as the Common Information Model (CIM) will help solve the problems associated with managing heterogeneous storage systems. What's debatable is when end users will be able to reap the benefits of CIM and related standards such as WBEM and Bluefin, which have been endorsed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).
Officials such as Mark Sorenson, vice president of Hewlett-Packard's storage software division, note that the standards are still "immature," and vendors like HP, Hitachi, IBM, and EMC are plowing ahead with API exchange agreements as interim steps that will in part mitigate management problems until CIM gels (see "HP swaps APIs with IBM, Hitachi," above).
At the same time, Sun Microsystems has already shipped the CIM-compliant StorEdge Enterprise Storage Manager (ESM) software (see "Sun software supports CIM," InfoStor, September 2002, p. 1). In addition, a number of start-ups are readying CIM-compliant suites. For example, StorScape was expected to deliver such a suite this month.
At last week's Storage Networking World conference, start-up AppIQ announced plans to deliver a CIM-compliant set of management products in December. The company is already shipping a CIM software developers kit (SDK)—called CIMIQ—for hardware and software vendors.
The company's end-user suite will consist of the AppIQ Manager foundation software, as well as application-specific versions for Microsoft Exchange and Oracle. In terms of functionality, the suite includes most of the features typically associated with storage network management software and is built around a life-cycle management model (see figure). Those functions include topology visualization, resource discovery and configuration, monitoring, capacity planning, automated provisioning, policy-based management, performance monitoring, reporting, chargeback, etc.
AppIQ will compete in part with large established players such as BMC Software, Computer Associates, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM/Tivoli, Sun, and Veritas Software, as well as with other start-ups such as InterSAN and StorScape.
According to Doug Cahill, vice president of business development at AppIQ, the company hopes to differentiate its products primarily in three areas:
- Compliance with the CIM standard;
- Application-centric management (support for MS Exchange and Oracle will be followed by MS SQL Server and DB2); and
- Tight integration of various storage management modules (so that users don't have to buy "point products").
"The storage management software market is very crowded and noisy right now, and the onus is on us to be really crisp on how we're unique and how we differentiate our products," Cahill says.
Not surprisingly, Cahill is optimistic about when CIM will become reality for users. He expects "a lot" of hardware vendors to support CIM by December, and he says that "end users will be able to manage heterogeneous storage networks with CIM software in the first quarter of next year."
When AppIQ's software ships in December, it will support host bus adapters from Emulex, JNI, and QLogic; Fibre Channel switches from Brocade and McData; and disk subsystems from EMC (Symmetrix), Hitachi Data Systems, LSI, Network Appliance, and Sun (T3).