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Storage

Storage standards program gets thumbs-up

Products from a variety of vendors meet an emerging standard for managing storage gear, which aims to ease headaches for information technology administrators.

Life may have just gotten easier for data storage administrators.

On Tuesday, an industry group said a slew of storage products have passed a testing program designed to make sure the products conform to an emerging interoperability standard.

That standard, called the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), is an interface designed to aid in the implementation and management of storage gear from different companies. The specification and the testing program come out of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).

"This is a monumental achievement for the industry and end users," Ray Dunn, chairman of the SNIA Storage Management Forum, said in a statement. "For the first time ever, end users will be able to select storage management products with SMI-S conformant interfaces, which will help make their storage simpler to implement and manage. We believe SMI-S will ease the day-to-day routines of storage management and that the specification will be widely adopted in all new products by the end of 2005."

According to SNIA, more than 100 products from 14 companies have passed the testing program. The companies include Dell, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems.

Companies have turned to networked storage arrangements--as opposed to attaching disks directly to server computers--in order to utilize their storage equipment more efficiently and manage it better. But overseeing complex networks with products from multiple vendors can be a challenge.

Using storage management software with products that are SMI-S conformant will alleviate some of the pain involved in storage administration, according to SNIA. The specification will simplify activities such as discovering devices on a storage network, the organization said.

Marty LeFebvre, vice president of technology strategy at Nielsen Media Research and member of the SNIA End User Council governing board, indicated that passing the testing program will be important to future sales. "From this point forward, SMI-S conformance requirements will be an important element in our RFPs (request for proposals) for any new storage product purchases," LeFebvre said in a statement.

Version 1.0.2 of SMI-S has entered the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Fast Track process, SNIA said. The process is expected to result in SMI-S becoming an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard in the summer of 2004, according to SNIA.