User-group options multiply

By Dave Simpson

If you're a storage end user with a desire to join an association of your peers, your alternatives are expanding. On Tuesday, the Association of Storage Networking Professionals (ASNP) became the newest end-user organization dedicated to storage issues.

On the same day, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced that it has become the founding sponsor of the StorageNetworking.org initiative, an end-user organization that is administered by the Information Storage Industry Center (ISIC) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). (Four other academic institutions are also involved in the project.)

On top of that, SNIA already has an end-user advisory group, recently re-named the End User Council, which SNIA will continue to expand in addition to its involvement in StorageNetworking.org, according to Sheila Childs, SNIA's chairperson.

And those aren't your only options. Earlier this year, consultant and author Jon Toigo formed an end-user "advocacy group" called the Data Management Institute. For more information, see www.toigoproductions.com and www.datainstitute.org

ASNP and StorageNetworking.org have similar goals:
* To provide a peer forum for users to discuss storage issues;
* To provide a portal and Website for users;
* To administer regional member meetings; and
* To provide education and training.

The chairman and executive director of the ASNP (www.asnp.org) is Daniel Delshad, who is also chairman of the Storage World Conference, which competes with SNIA's Storage Networking World (SNW) conference. (The next SNW is October 27 to 30 in Orlando, where members of SNIA's End User Council will hold "town meetings.")

The ASNP has set up 20 regional chapters, with 14 in the U.S. StorageNetworking.org is currently forming six regional user groups (called storage networking user groups, or SNUGs) and is expected to announce more details at this month's SNW conference.

ASNP membership is free to the first 1,000 members; after that, it's $199 per year. There are no membership fees for StorageNetworking.org, which is a non-profit organization.

Why another storage users group? "End users are feeling powerless when it comes to separating hype from what's real in the storage networking space," says Delshad. "ASNP will give end users a voice in the marketplace."

In comparing the ASNP to StorageNetworking.org and SNIA's efforts in the end-user community, Delshad says that "ASNP will be driven solely by end users; SNIA is an industry association made up primarily of vendors." However, the ASNP does have a number of "partner programs" for vendor involvement.

SNIA, for its part, is taking a wait-and-see stance: "SNIA doesn't support ASNP, but we're not against it," says Childs. "We don't know enough about it yet, but if they provide value to end users then we would support it."

ASNP's membership goal is to have 1,000 participants by year-end, and 2,000 by the end of next year. ASNP regional directors for the US-based chapters include representatives from companies such as Qwest Communications, Southern Company, Florida Institute of Technology, Barnes & Noble, Southwest Airlines, Allstate, Home Depot, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, Washington Mutual Bank, America Online, Mayo Clinic, and the University of New Hampshire.

A longer version of this article will run in the November print edition of InfoStor.

This article was originally published on October 01, 2003