The good thing about standards…

…is that there’s so many of them. There’s an interesting brouhaha brewing in the storage management standards arena. As covered in senior editor Kevin Komiega’s story on p. 8 (see “Users drive open source storage initiative”), an open source initiative was launched last month to provide a framework for heterogeneous storage management.

Spearheaded by the always-controversial Jon Toigo, StorageRevolution.com differs from other storage management initiatives in one important way: It will be driven by end users, not vendors. This is in contrast to other efforts-most notably the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA’s) SMI-S standard and the Aperi initiative-which are driven by vendors.

Handicapping these efforts-or even painting it as a battle-may be worthless because it’s just too early to gauge the potential of Aperi and StorageRevolution.com. In contrast, SNIA has been working on the SMI-S standard, which is based on existing standards (CIM and WBEM), for years and has a solid code base.

Toigo argues that vendor-driven industry organizations trying to create standards via “co-opetition” inevitably get mired down by politics. He also argues that such organizations inherently favor larger vendors with fat wallets. And he contends that end users are not demanding SMI-S.

I partially agree. If you talk to users and frame the question as, “Are you in favor of standards for storage management?”, they’ll give you the Frankenstein insight: “Standards. Good.” But if you frame the question as, “Do you think that a bunch of fiercely competitive vendors can get together and hammer out standards that will ultimately benefit users?”, then they laugh.

As for industry associations such as SNIA being inherently biased toward larger vendors, there is certainly some evidence to suggest that. But in the context of SNIA’s SMI-S, arguably one of the most influential vendors was tiny AppIQ. And alas! AppIQ has been acquired by Hewlett-Packard.

And shortly after the announcement of the HP-AppIQ acquisition (widely viewed as potentially giving HP an edge in standards-based storage management), the IBM-led Aperi group was launched. Although it boasted a decent list of initial members, conspicuously absent from the Aperi initiative were vendors such as EMC, HP, and Symantec-not exactly lightweights when it comes to storage management.

Like StorageRevolution.com, Aperi is an open source initiative; like SNIA, Aperi is a vendor-driven group.

SNIA’s reaction to StorageRevolution.com was a politically correct one: “All for one, and one for all.” Or is it more like a free-for-all (“n: a competition, dispute, or fight open to all comers and usu. with no rules,” according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)?

What’s your opinion? Is this The Three Musketeers or a three-ring circus? Should vendors or users be in the driver’s seat for storage management standards? Drop me a line at daves@pennwell.com.

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Dave Simpson

This article was originally published on March 01, 2006