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Vendors agree on data management standard

Vendors tackle the proprietary nature of communications between backup management software tools and network-attached storage devices by introducing a new standard.

Network file server vendor Network Appliance and Unix backup software maker PDC are tackling the proprietary nature of communications between backup management software tools and network-attached storage devices by introducing a new standard.

The Network Data Management Protocol will let administrators control data as it flows to attached storage arrays or tapes over the network, according to Rich Boberg, Network Appliance's director of strategic development.

The new standard has the support of 15 vendors, including Cheyenne Software, ranging from tape library companies and network-attached storage firms to backup software vendors.

Most backup operations tie specific hardware to specific hardware configurations. The protocol will let any Network Data Management Protocol-compliant hardware product, such as a tape library or file server, attach to the network and be managed by any piece of software that includes the protocol.

Noticeably absent from the current mix is Microsoft Windows NT backup, software leader Seagate Software's Storage Management Group, and storage hardware big shots such as EMC. Network Appliance officials said a number of additional companies will embed the standard into products, but they do not want to make that information public yet.

The data management protocol will be offered to the Internet Engineering Task Force at the end of the month for adoption as a standard. Enhancements to the protocol will follow, and future releases will be governed by the Network Data Management Task Force, a newly created organization made up of the specification's sponsors.

The protocol will be available at the end of the month at the protocol Web site.

Other vendors supporting the initiative include BEI, CommVault, OpenVision, Spectra Logic, Workstation Solutions, ATL, Breece-Hill, Compact Devices, Cyber Storage, Falcon Systems, Invincible Technologies, and Traakan.