Big Blue Grafts Bluefin API to Storage Server

IBM isn’t passing up a
chance to try to steal rival EMC’s thunder in the storage sector as it plans Monday to debut the
Enterprise Storage Server Application Programming Interface (ESS API)
for its latest high-end storage server.

The announcement will fall on the same day EMC is widely expected to unfurl
the curtain on its Symmetrix 6, the latest iteration of its high-end
storage platform, with new features that customers have been demanding.

Big Blue has created the ESS API to work smoothly in the Enterprise
Storage Server Model 800
member of its Shark family. It is compatible
with “Bluefin,” the API for finding, monitoring and managing
devices on a storage area network (SAN) .

Bluefin, now officially known as the Storage Management Initiative (SMI),
links clients with agents. It is attractive to both customers and vendors
because applications may be created using one open standard, as opposed to
installing proprietary interfaces that cannot communicate with other
vendors’ devices.

Models that promote interoperability, such as Bluefin, are vital to the
evolution of the storage industry, as enterprises look to employ a variety
of hardware and software systems made by different vendors to maintain their
copious amounts of data.

Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst Tony Prigmore said the ESS API, as
endorsed by vendors such as Computer Associates, BMC, Intersan, and Tivoli,
is IBM’s proof that its storage products will be Bluefin compliant. One
reason this is crucial, he said, is because some vendors have procurement
policies with customers that say they must deliver Bluefin-compliant
products.

“At the end of the day IT customers want choice,” Prigmore told internetnews.com. “Bluefin,
for all of its buzz, has prompted storage vendors to do what they can to
open APIs and ultimately establish standards to help users leverage
framework technology.”

Jim Tuckwell, marketing manager for Enterprise Storage, IBM Systems Group,
said the move would make it easier for customers to manage the using Shark
800 servers in a multi-vendor storage network. Multi-vendor SANs consisting
of Bluefin-enabled products, Tuckwell said, will be more reliable and
secure, and easier for end users to monitor and manage.

Tuckwell said having Bluefin-compliant products while rival EMC does not
gives Big Blue an advantage, but Prigmore downplayed the advantage of being
a first mover, noting that EMC kicked off API sharing in the first place.

“Both vendors made commitments to standards compliance,” Prigmore said.
“Both vendors have engaged in API swapping with other vendors. Ultimately,
there is no way we’d expect every vendor to have compliance at the same
time. I think it’s going to be hard to find a customer that chooses IBM over
Hitachi, or Hitachi over EMC because of compliance. It’s not an dealbreaker
at the end of the day. More or less, everyone is in the game.”

The initial release of the ESS API is available for the AIX, Linux, and
Windows 2000 operating environments and supports routine LUN management
activities. Tuckwell illustrated IBM’s Bluefin momentum when he said
revealed that partners such as CA, BMC and Tivoli support its Bluefin
initiative.

IBM’s storage maneuvers didn’t end there, as Tuckwell told
internetnews.com IBM is also expanding mainframe storage support for
the open Linux platform, a fast-growing market segment. As Linux
proliferates, Tuckwell said, so will the need for storage to accommodate
those systems, especially in mainframe environments.

To that end, Shark now supports IBM eServer zSeries customers running the
Linux operating system with new FICON attachment for increased throughput,
FlashCopy support for copying data and Peer to Peer Remote Copy support for
disaster recovery.

Prigmore approved of the expanded mainframe support and features, saying the
importance of this should not be underestimated for those following IBM’s
business progress, given the traction the company is gaining.

Shark will also cut its teeth with 15K rpm, 72.8GB disk drives, and IBM will
also support the use of 15K rpm and 10K rpm disks of the same capacity
within the IBM Shark Model 800, F10 and F20 by the second half of 2003.

This story originally appeared on internetnews.com.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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