Cisco Introduces Open-API Program for Storage ISVs -

Cisco Introduces Open-API Program for Storage ISVs

Cisco Systems is launching a technology development program for independent software vendors in the SAN management and storage resource management industries to integrate their applications to the Cisco MDS 9000 family of multilayer directors and fabric switches.

The open-API (application platform interface) program includes a software developer's kit (SDK) that gives companies full access to Cisco's MDS 9000 set of industry standards-based SNMP management information base (MIBs), including SNMP v2 for discovery and monitoring and SNMP v3 for secured configuration and access control.

Cisco said it has initially offered the Cisco MDS 9000 platform with SNMP as the management interface, given the broad support among independent software vendors (ISVs), especially for the management of SAN switches. Cisco has developed and published 80 MIBs for the Cisco MDS 9000, ranging from the ability to fully discover sophisticated Cisco MDS 9000 topologies to performing advanced configuration management, including Fibre Channel zones and virtual SANs (VSANs). The Cisco MDS 9000 also includes topology-aware diagnostics and alert-management via SNMP traps and alerts.

Additional ISV program components include access to development tools such as simulators and design reference guides as well as to Cisco's partner development laboratory. They also have access to Cisco's developer support site, including online bug reporting, tracking, and updates, as well as Cisco consulting services for developers.

The vendors currently participating in the program include BMC Software with its PATROL Storage Management software suite, Computer Associates with BrightStor SAN Manager, HP with OpenView Storage Area Manager, IBM Tivoli Software with IBM Tivoli SAN Manager, InterSAN with InterSAN PATHLINE, Tek-Tools with Storage Profiler, and VERITAS Software with VERITAS SANPoint Control.

BMC Software, IBM Tivoli, InterSAN, Tek-Tools, and VERITAS Software have all committed to introducing Cisco MDS 9000-compatible versions of their management applications within 60 to 90 days. These companies have dedicated engineering efforts to support all major Cisco MDS 9000 features, including topology, VSAN and Port Channel discovery and configuration, health monitoring, and Fibre Channel zoning/inventory. The remaining companies are expected to make their versions available by the third quarter. Other storage network management vendors will be able to join the program upon meeting the qualification requirements.

"This allows people to write directly to the hardware," said Enterprise Management Associates senior analyst Mike Karp. "It's a very useful thing."

Cisco is getting into the business of storage switches via the acquisition of Andiamo Systems, Karp said. "That's a smart move," he said. "They don't know much about storage, but they know switches," which he said are becoming "increasingly intelligent."

Dan Tanner, Aberdeen Group's director of storage research, noted that networks are becoming the modern equivalent of mainframes. "If the network is going to replace the mainframe, then it makes sense to have it behave like mainframes," he said.

The MDS 9000 "is an intelligent device, and additional software hosted on it could add even more intelligence to the network," Tanner said. Platform vendors like IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems are also "adding intelligence to platforms," he said.

"At the end of the day, I wish it were standard CIM/Bluefin so we didn't need APIs, but nothing's perfect," said Enterprise Storage Group senior analyst Steve Duplessie. "Cisco, as big and powerful as they are, are still only a component of the ecosystem, and as such have to be managed by others. In order to do that, others need to know how to talk to the [switches]."

Cisco Will Support SMI, CIM/WEBM

In addition to offering SNMP MIBs, Cisco said it is committed to supporting the SNIA Storage Management Initiative (SMI) and is working to add a Common Information Model/Web-Based Enterprise Management (CIM/WEBM) interface to the Cisco MDS 9000. Cisco expects to make this interface available in the second half of 2003, aligning it closely with the expected availability of CIM/WBEM-compliant products from storage subsystem and management application vendors.

"Heterogeneous SAN management support for the Cisco MDS 9000 is a critical requirement in meeting our goal in offering a highly flexible, open, and innovative SAN switching platform," said Bill Erdman, director of Technology Alliances for the Storage Technology Group at Cisco. "SNMP has been around for years, is quite stable, and provides integration with a majority of the SAN management and SRM applications on the market today. Additionally, Cisco fully recognizes that CIM is the future for this industry and will be ready to support it by the second half of this year."

AVVID Updated

Cisco also updated the storage-networking track of its AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) partner program from five solution areas to two technology categories: software and hardware vendors.

The above-mentioned ISVs automatically qualify into the program as storage software partners. Storage hardware partners officially joining the program are Emulex, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, JNI Corporation, and QLogic. These companies have either completed interoperability qualifications between their respective hardware products and the Cisco MDS 9000, or are expected to complete testing by the end of the first quarter. Other companies scheduled to join the program include Network Appliance, Quantum/ATL, and XIOtech, which expect to complete interoperability testing and qualifications by the second quarter. Cisco said it will add more companies as they meet the program requirements.

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