Storage heavyweights form open source group

By Kevin Komiega

—An IBM-lead group of nine storage hardware and software vendors surprised attendees at the Storage Networking World conference this week when they announced a plan to form a non-profit, open source community aimed at developing a heterogeneous, standards-based common storage management platform.

Joining IBM as founding members of the project, called Aperi (from Latin meaning "to open"), are Brocade, Cisco, Computer Associates, Engenio Information Technologies, Fujitsu, McData, Network Appliance, and Sun.

Laura Sanders, vice president of TotalStorage Solutions for IBM, says the goal of the project is to develop a common management platform for all types of storage systems. Aperi members will contribute source code, personnel, and funding to the project.

The development of the Aperi platform will build on the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) standard developed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). SMI-S will serve as the common interface between heterogeneous storage devices, while code developed through the Aperi project will provide a framework for applications to perform high-level management functions.

Details about how the Aperi community will be organized are still sketchy as the member companies literally began their meetings this week, but more information about the group, including who will serve on the board of directors, is expected in the coming months.

Conspicuously absent from the announcement were major storage vendors EMC and Hewlett-Packard, although IBM's Sanders claims that invitations to join Aperi were extended to both companies. EMC and HP could not be reached for comment by press time.

End users should not expect any miracle management applications in the near future. The project will take time to develop into a real world storage platform.

Randy Kerns, vice president of strategy and planning for Sun, says skepticism about the ability of storage vendors to work side-by-side is for now irrelevant to the success of the open source movement. "Customers shouldn't care about this until they have the open source platform. Then they will be able to measure our success," he says. "When we deliver an open source management platform they'll have the best solutions at a compelling price."

Aperi member companies initially plan to donate part of their storage management technology to the open source community. Other members will have the option to also donate intellectual property, so that collectively the group can advance the initiative and encourage developers to write storage management applications based on the platform.

This article was originally published on October 28, 2005