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Storage End User Associations Proliferate
Lately, we have seen several attempts to create end user organizations that are less tightly linked to individual vendors. The Storage Networking Industry Association, for example, has created end user councils that were originally conceived as autonomous, vendor-free bodies within the SNIA.
These end user entities would be financed by the SNIA, but encouraged to set their own agendas and establish their own vehicles for gathering end user input. SNIA board members would act as liaisons between the SNIA and the autonomous end user organizations. The intent is to create an open and collective channel for end user issues that can have immediate access to the vendor community as a whole.
This SNIA-sponsored attempt has had mixed results, primarily due to the fact that SNIA initiatives must rely primarily on volunteer effort. Consequently, the SNIA is also working with other storage end-user efforts, including the University of California at San Diego’s storagenetworking.org, to help create local end user groups focused on storage networking technologies and issues. Through the SNIA Education Committee, the SNIA is also providing SAN professional skills certification testing as well as in-depth tutorials on many aspects of storage networking technology.
Another recent end user effort was led by Quantum and other vendors with a focus on data protection and backup. The Enhanced Backup Solutions Initiative (EBSI) built an impressive mailing list of interested customers, but after encountering financial difficulties due to lack of vendor sponsorships, the EBSI eventually merged into the Data Management Forum (DMF) within the SNIA. Essentially, a vendor-led end user effort was forced by basic economics to take its initiative under the more vendor-neutral and better financed industry umbrella.
Since the EBSI’s existence was predicated on vendor, as opposed to end user, subscriptions, the SNIA (the gathering place of all storage networking-related vendors) turned out to be the more logical and realistic home for this backup initiative. The DMF, like the EBSI, however, must still walk the tightrope of vendor neutrality to ensure that end user participation is not tainted by influence peddling.