SNIA prioritizes software development

By Kevin Komiega

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is adding software development to its repertoire to more efficiently help vendors incorporate standards-based storage management into their products, and ultimately, into end-user environments.

SNIA recently announced that its membership has voted and approved a change to the organization’s bylaws to define and formalize the scope of its software development projects as well as to strengthen the development and adoption of storage management standards.

The group also launched a new working group focused on developing and defining standards for common components of management frameworks. The new Management Frameworks Technical Working Group (MF TWG) will act as an organizing and coordinating entity to create standards for enterprise-level services necessary for the management of storage providers and clients as well as related infrastructure.

SNIA members hope the changes to the organization’s charter will allow for a more-organized software effort and serve as a catalyst for the adoption of standards such as SMI-S, XAM, and CIM.

“Since the inception of SNIA we have been trying to find better ways to get standards adopted and used. The reality is that it takes time to not only develop the standards, but also to get them adopted by developers at large,” says Vincent Franceschini, SNIA’s new chairman and director of future technologies for Hitachi Data Systems. “Offering developers help through specific software-based projects should help accelerate adoption.”

To that end, SNIA plans to offer software development kits (SDKs), reference implementations, and other tools to help solution providers make sure they are on the right track when it comes to complying with standards.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, says SNIA’s new software projects should result in more real-world implementations of standards. “This is the natural progression of the SMI-S standard into more usable [products],” says Duplessie.

SNIA’s Franceschini says several current and future projects will directly benefit from the expansion of the association and its bylaws, including building out the features and functions of SMI-S, providing an easier route to implementation of the emerging eXtensible Access Method (XAM) standard, and offering an improved software-based tester for the CIM protocol that will save development time by reducing the testing lifecycle of a vendor’s SMI-S conformant products.

As for the Management Framework Technical Working Group, it has been tasked with creating standards that specify interoperable uses of the interfaces provided by Management Framework services.

The proposed activities to be covered by the MF TWG will be numerous. Among them are a reference architecture, a framework data model, and a core service for discovering SMI-S agents via Service Location Protocol (SLP) and the discovery of Web services-based management interfaces and framework services. Other items on the agenda include the development of user interfaces and services for grouping resources.

“SMI-S has been utilized at the device level, but we need to provide better interoperability between all domains in the data center related to storage management,” says Franceschini.

Working with Aperi group

Shadowing the SNIA’s management framework project is the Aperi project, an IBM-lead open source project aimed at developing a heterogeneous, standards-based common storage management platform.

However, SNIA maintains that it will work closely with Aperi members. After all, both groups claim to have the same goal, which is to give users more choices for deploying storage infrastructure software.

“SNIA and the Aperi group had been communicating with each other to understand whether the Aperi project could live under the SNIA umbrella. …We had some common, high-level objectives for a management framework, but different approaches,” says Franceschini.

SNIA and the Aperi group are in ongoing discussions about establishing a more-formal relationship going forward so that the groups can create a more efficient way to collaborate.

The Aperi group was founded by 10 member companies, including Brocade, CA, Cisco, Emulex, Fujitsu Ltd., IBM, LSI Logic, McData, Network Appliance, and Novell.

The MF TWG’s founding members are Brocade, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Ltd., IBM, Intel, LSI Logic, Network Appliance, Patni Computer Systems, Sun Microsystems, Symantec, and WBEM Solutions.

This article was originally published on December 01, 2006