SNIA builds shared-storage model


The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is developing a shared-storage model that it hopes will benefit both end users and vendors as they grapple with diverse storage architectures and terminology. The organization will demonstrate the model at the Storage Networking World conference and exhibit (April 9-11 in Palm Desert, CA), which is co-sponsored by SNIA.

"Many end users think there's a shoot-out going on between NAS [network-attached storage] and SAN [storage area network], for instance, and the vendor community feeds that," says Wayne Rickard, chair of the SNIA technical council and CTO at Gadzoox Networks. "We're trying to level the playing field with a shared-storage model that will fit the NAS and SAN models, for instance, into the same model so that users can see the trade-offs between the two solutions."

Rickard says that by using the model, end users will be able to more accurately compare storage architectures as well as specific vendor implementations. "Users will be able to take what one vendor is saying, compare it to the model, and contrast it with what another vendor is telling them," Rickard explains. "End users will be able to ask more intelligent questions."

In addition to utilizing existing architectures such as NAS and SANs, users will be able to fit emerging architectures and protocols such as

The SNIA storage model is divided into four layers: application, file/record subsystem, block aggregation, and storage devices.
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iSCSI into the shared-storage model. "All storage subsystems get layered according to fundamental principals, which fit into the SNIA model," says Rickard. He adds that the model will also benefit vendors by enabling them to more accurately present their architectures and products; explain architectural distinctions; and use a common vocabulary.

The SNIA storage model is a framework based on layers, functions, and services (see diagram on p. 1). Among other things, it shows what services are provided at various levels and where interoperability is required. In the future, SNIA plans to use the model to outline advantages and disadvantages of each of the various storage architectures.

The shared-storage model was developed by the SNIA technical council, which consists of Harald Skardal (Network Appliance), David Black (EMC), Wayne Rickard (Gadzoox), Dave Anderson (Seagate), Jim Carlson (IBM), Garth Gibson (CMU), Kevin Phaup (Highground), David Thiel (Compaq), and Julie Schott (SNIA technical director).

For more information on the SNIA shared-storage model, visit www.snia.org. For more information on the Storage Networking World conference, visit www.computerworld.com/snw.

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This article was originally published on March 01, 2001