Jini coming to storage
By Zachary Shess
The release of Jini, a networking software extension of Sun Microsystems` Java language, is among the latest examples in the company`s continuing vision to network virtually everything together. Jini provides a programming layer that gives devices such as disk drives or digital cameras instant plug-and-play network functionality. Jini-connected devices and applications can then automatically acknowledge each other and share services.
Supporters contend that Jini has the potential to bring networked storage into non-traditional areas, manage it, and improve device interoperability. Sun`s storage-oriented partners are excited about its potential and pragmatic about its near-term effectiveness.
Steve Mann, vice president of strategic planning at Computer Associates (CA), sees Jini`s value in linking together and providing networked storage for nontraditional devices. "There are a lot of nontraditional devices out there with chips in them that can speak to other smart devices. Why not network them together?" Mann asks.
At some point, Mann sees the Advanced Storage Option of CA`s UniCenter TNG suite providing a storage management layer for these networked devices. "Let`s say you have a new set of portable kiosks or point-of-sale terminals and you were to use Jini to intermittently connect them together with some sort of storage mechanism. You would need some way to manage the data stored on those devices, and actually perform the backup and restore functions if necessary," says Mann. "UniCenter TNG doesn`t manage an asset that`s intermittently being networked through Jini, but it gives you the ability to store any data that resides on that asset, whether it`s a digital camera, a relational database or a printer."
However, Mann will not say when users can expect Jini-supported products, citing a current lack of demand and market infrastructure.
Quantum is another Jini partner that believes the technology will provide critically needed storage management to users with burgeoning data capacities. Paul Borrill, vice president of Quantum`s storage systems software unit, says Jini intelligence will be a key enabler in three primary areas:
- Self-configuration of devices, which is especially important during installation
- Storage management infrastructure, to help users identify non-traditional networked devices and immediately determine their parameters and capabilities
- Data protection assistance, such as identifying drive errors or failures
"The amount of data that administrators will have to manage is going to be so overwhelming that companies are going to be drowning in just the management of the data instead of using it," Borrill says. "What we have to do is try and find a way to expose the intelligence in our disk drives that in a way helps with this storage management problem."
Borrill expects Jini-enabled disk drives at the desktop level later this year. Beyond that, Quantum will let market needs dictate future implementation into other product areas.