IEEE approves first storage standards

Posted on October 01, 2000

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By Heidi Biggar

The IEEE Computer Society recently passed its first storage systems standards. Approved were four standards describing key components of the IEEE Media Management System (MMS), including its architecture, data model, and protocols for media, drive, and library management.

Casting ballots were 35 representatives from vendors such as Chaparral Network Storage, Compaq, Exabyte, Legato, Microsoft, Network Appliance, SGI, and Sun Microsystems. A fifth standard, addressing security and authentication issues, is expected to go to ballot in November. Six other MMS standards are on the drawing boards (see table).

An extension of SGI's OpenVault, MMS replaces the IEEE Mass Storage Reference Model (MSSRM). Legato's GEMS SmartMedia, which allows for broad library support, is based on the same technology.

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IEEE defines MMS as a distributed, multi-platform system for managing removable media (disk, optical, and tape). The standards define the MMS architecture, data model, and the interface between components, but not the internal APIs (see diagram).

Central to the MMS architecture is the Media Management Protocol (MMP), which allocates, de-allocates, mounts and dismounts volumes and administers the system. The Drive Management Protocol (DMP) and the Library Management Protocol (LMP), meanwhile, manage the attached drives or libraries.

The new standards enable MMS-compliant applications and library/drive managers to interoperate, with significant implications particularly for the tape industry.


The IEEE Media Management System (MMS) manages media at the request of clients. MMS clients are application programs that run on one or more host systems. The Media Management Protocol (MMP) allocates, de-allocates, mounts and dismounts volumes, and administers the system.
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"The MMS standard allows library vendors to take back control [from software vendors]," says Curtis Anderson, chair of the IEEE storage systems standards working group (SSSWG) assigned to MMS development. "If a library vendor, for example, provides an MMS-compliant Library Manager, then all applications that interface to the MMS can use the library."

Whether or not the industry will embrace MMS is a big question, given the recent eruption of disparate standards activities across the industry. "There are a lot of groups out there working on a lot of things," says Anderson. "The key is to make the value proposition sweet enough that the benefits of adhering to the MMS standard outweigh the costs."

Anderson says MMS benefits users and vendors alike. Library manufacturers benefit from broader application support, and application providers benefit from broader library support. By sharing library resour-ces among distributed systems, users can potentially reduce storage costs and improve data management.

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In addition to the MMS standards, SSSWG is working on three tape projects. The proposed standards address operating system APIs, tape drivers for Unix-like operating systems, and metadata interchange.

IEEE is working with the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to add MMS support to the Common Interface Model-the data model for Web-based enterprise management-and with the AIIM association in its efforts to develop a standard for metadata on tape.

At the IEEE-NASA Mass Storage Symposium next April, IEEE will present a tutorial on standards collaboration with the objective of raising awareness of standards efforts across the industry.

For more information, go to www.storageconference.org/2001.


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