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This specification, code named 'Bluefin', employs technology from the Web Based Enterprise (WBEM) initiative that uses the Managed Object Format (MOF) to describe system resources based on a Common Information Model (CIM). In addition, according to Robin Glasgow, executive director of SNIA, Bluefin introduces new technology for security, locking, and discovery for SAN management. Glasgow says the specification is slated to become public this month to SNIA members. "Although true interoperability has not yet been accomplished in the storage industry, says Glasgow, it is not that far away."
On the surface, it does seem that the Blufin specification will become an important milestone in the storage industry as some of the industry's deadliest competitors (EMC, IBM, Brocade, Veritas, Sun, HP, Hitachi, Dell, Emulex, StorageTek, and Qlogic) participated in its development. And, at the very least, the Bluefin specification may finally prove that even deadly storage industry competitors can learn to play together nicely.
For some, industry associations are more about what they can provide rather than what they do. Martyn Joyce of Fujitsu Softek says industry associations help create a collegiate atmosphere for storage industry professionals to jointly move forward. According to Joyce there are two types of people who join industry associations: those who do all the work and those who watch them do the work. The downside to associations, according to Joyce, is that most of the people who chair these associations are from the biggest companies, since these companies have the resources and time to dedicate to these efforts, and have more of a vested interest in the way standards are evolving into the future. Joyce is in a strong position to comment - he is an active member of both SNIA and FCIA.
Dianne McAdam, an analyst with Illuminata, feels that these industry associations give a tremendous boost to vendors and end users alike. "Associations like SNIA are shaping the industry as I see them putting the issue of standards ahead of their individual members," she says. "I for one am very upbeat about these associations as I believe that they are a great asset to the storage industry as a whole," she continued.
Bob Passmore, a storage industry analyst with Gartner, says that historically industry associations were nothing more than a promotions group. However, he feels that SNIA has gone beyond that role. "It's valuable for a forum, such as the SNIA, to assert themselves this way (developing standards) as it provides the necessary education for the end user community," he says. Passmore also sees SNIA's Interoperability Lab in Colorado Springs, CO as an excellent vehicle to test and resolve some of the major issues surrounding the storage industry. "The lab has most of the large pieces of equipment so end users can see how all of these components work together," he concluded.
As storage industry professionals continue to come together to create non-proprietary cross-vendor standards to ensure interoperability between their various storage area network products, both end users and vendors alike will reap the benefits. It seems that many of the industry associations are assisting their members to work toward this goal and in some cases may be able to make the difference between success and failure.