By Heidi Biggar
Sun Microsystems is hoping that recent support from a handful of component and software vendors - most notably, Veritas Software - will help drive adoption of its Jiro technology, especially among other software and systems vendors.
Jiro, an implementation of the Federated Management Architecture specification, provides automated and policy-driven applications in distributed environments, in particular storage area networks (SANs). "It enables the interaction of all (Jiro-compliant) management pieces," says Amy Lynch, product line manager, Sun Network Storage.
To date, there are no commercially available Jiro applications; however, vendors - in particular software manufacturers - have begun to develop management facades that work with existing software applications to facilitate communication among Jiro-enabled devices. "You have to have a number of these building first," says Guy Bunker, director of strategic engineering at Veritas, "but the real benefit is going to be the next level of applications."
In October, Veritas announced that it had developed Jiro-enabled management facades for its NetBackup, Volume Manager, and File System programs. Veritas is also reportedly working with Oracle and Sybase to develop applications for Jiro.
Also announcing management facades were Crossroads Systems, which certified its conXsan 4x50 routers with Jiro, and Sun, which has made its StorEdge T3 array, A5200 array, and Instant Storage Management software Jiro-enabled. BMC Software, Legato Systems, and QLogic also plan to offer Jiro-enabled technologies within the next few months.
BMC, for example, is expected to unveil a Jiro-enabled knowledge module for its Patrol application software in March, and Legato says it will announce a management facade in May. QLogic, meanwhile, will make its switches Jiro-enabled later this quarter.
Jiro's value stems from its potential to eliminate the language barrier in the storage arena, creating a common management tool across all platforms. "Jiro gets everybody speaking the same language," says Tom Cox, director of development at Hopkinton, MA-based Articulent, a storage management service provider.
The idea is not to have to write sub-routines for six different storage companies, but to develop management facades that provide a clean, consistent way of talking to various devices, explains Cox.
The management facades, which are FederatedBean components, act as interfaces for a resource or application to the management domain, which enables resources or applications to be managed in a Jiro environment (see diagram).
"It's intended to help users 'glue' together various applications from various vendors and make them all work together in a seamless fashion," says Scott McIntyre, vice president of product management at Legato.
For software vendors, Jiro may be an answer to their prayers. Explains Veritas' Bunker, "If Jiro becomes a standard, in theory we would only have to write to a single application (for all Jiro-enabled arrays). The rest of the complexity is hidden through Jiro and the device's management facade." Software vendors such as Veritas hope to speed up development efforts and to focus on functionality rather than device support.
Whether or not Jiro becomes a standard will largely depend on how customers receive the technology and on Sun's ability to get system vendors to adopt Jiro.