CIM, WBEM deliver the building blocks of SMI-S

Key benefits of the SMI-S standard will be software interoperability and reduced management costs and hassles.

By the SNIA Storage Management Forum and the DMTF

Management is at the crux of any effective storage environment. However, administrators are faced with overseeing multiple management applications, most of which are not interoperable, leading to expensive configuration and integration woes.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) developed the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) to enable and streamline the integration of diverse multi-vendor storage networks; enable the development of more-powerful management applications; encourage management consolidation; and provide a common interface for storage networking vendors.

It is important to understand the architecture of the SMI-S and how advancements in the "building blocks" of the specification—including the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based

Enterprise Management (WBEM) standards—are contributing to the features that will be delivered in SMI-S-compliant products.

Originally released in 1998, the Distributed Management Task Force's (DMTF's) CIM standard allows for the common definition of management information in a platform-independent and technology-neutral way, enabling SMI-S to deliver a more integrated and cost-effective approach to multi-vendor storage management.


The SNIA has been a DMTF Alliance Partner since 1999, participating in the development of DMTF's CIM as a common approach to providing interoperable storage management.

Another key piece of SMI-S is DMTF's WBEM standard, which leverages existing Internet and XML technologies for the interoperable exchange of management information. WBEM is a set of technologies, including an information model (CIM), an encoding specification (xmlCIM), and a set of operations with a transport mechanism (CIM Operations over HTTP).

Building on previous CIM/WBEM developments, the SNIA launched the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) in 2002 to encourage vendors to adopt an open interface. SMI-S uses WBEM as a communications protocol and CIM as the underlying object model to build seamless multi-vendor management interoperability for storage networks. The SMI-S feature set provides storage vendors with the tools to develop simplified, interoperable management applications. The SMI-S will provide storage administrators with the ability to manage a heterogeneous storage network with a single interface.

As the SNIA continues to develop the SMI-S standard, the DMTF continues to enhance CIM. CIM 2.8, which is due in January, includes a number of key features to benefit storage users.

CIM 2.8 delivers advancements that will be included in the next version of SMI-S, such as enhancements to Storage Configuration Services, as well as controls for LUN mapping and masking. This will provide a uniform way for storage administrators to allocate and restrict access to storage volumes on shared ports of a storage array connected to storage area network (SAN). The DMTF also refined CIM 2.8 for the current storage configuration service used by both the SNIA and the DMTF for LUN creation, which will enable IT managers to avoid vendor lock-in by providing a choice in their SAN management software.

CIM 2.8 also includes a new ProtocolController class, which will allow for better modeling of SCSI and the ability to manage access to storage devices from multiple vendors in a SAN. It also has new state management controls, enabling the start-up and shutdown of storage devices, and has added Profile Registration, which will provide storage managers with the ability to ask for specific profile and sub-profile support from vendors.

As zoning plays an increasingly critical role in SANs and security, CIM 2.8 delivers new classes—ConnectivityMembershipSettingData and Named-

AddressCollection—to aid in the management process. CIM 2.8 adds zoning methods that enable the configuration and control necessary for cross-vendor zoning management. In addition, Copy Services have been simplified through improvements to the StorageSynchronized class.

When CIM 2.8 is released, SMI-S v1.0 will be submitted to INCITS (www.incits.org) for Fast Track ANSI approval.

CIM and SMI-S in action

Storage managers and developers have a variety of opportunities to see the SMI-S and CIM in action. At October's Storage Networking World (SNW) conference, attendees saw the SMI-Lab3 interoperability demonstration, which featured 22 participating companies integrating 40 storage products and creating more than 180 points of tested interoperability. These products have also been tested for compliance with a pre-release version of SNIA's SMI-S conformance test suite. The SMI-Lab3, a SNIA member plugfest, validates vendor implementations of SMI-S for interoperability.

"SMI-S and SMI-Lab3 are examples of the importance of CIM and its high level of extensibility," says Andrea Westerinen, vice president of technology at Cisco and a DMTF member.

"Data centers upgrading their storage management infrastructure with products based on SMI-S will be able to realize a more integrated, end-to-end approach to management," Westerinen adds SNIA's Developers' Courses at its Technology Center in Colorado Springs are intensive, five-day courses designed to provide the skills and education needed to leverage SMI-S. Attendees learn best practices to apply the development of WBEM-based storage clients and providers. The fundamentals of CIM modeling are covered and complemented with hands-on development. The courses prepare attendees to efficiently integrate storage systems and management applications based on the SMI-S standard. For more information about Developers' Courses, visit www.snia.org.

The SNIA Storage Management Forum recently hosted the second annual Storage Management Summit. By bringing together storage management professionals in a technical forum, the summit focused on all technical and business aspects of storage management.

This article was originally published on December 01, 2003