AppIQ's CIM Gamble Pays Off

AppIQ didn't start out hoping to lead the storage world to CIM, a new storage management standard, but the company wound up doing so after listening to its customers.

"When we were first building the AppIQ Solution Suite, we weren't looking at CIM," says Ash Ashutosh, CTO and co-founder of AppIQ. "But our customers told us they didn't want another proprietary solution, so we took another look at CIM and decided that the specification was more comprehensive than we had first thought. It was a gamble, but it turns out we were clearly in the right place at the right time. Other vendors offering storage management software that is not built on the SMI-S will need to invest a lot of time and money to re-engineer their products."

For AppIQ, the gamble has paid off handsomely. Its high-powered partners include Brocade, Hitachi Data Systems, LSI Logic, McDATA, Network Appliance, and Sun Microsystems. The company also announced a $12 million Series B round of funding a month ago, which resulted in an increase in valuation and was led by Matrix Partners, the top-performing venture capital firm.

The company began shipping its AppIQ Solution Suite in December and will ship v1.7 soon. The release will coincide with AppIQ's first announced customer.

The customer is the "first one willing to talk," asserts AppIQ Public Relations Manager Samantha Moulton. "We tend to have great traction in the financial services community, which is notorious for being tight-lipped."

CIM Serves as Foundation for AppIQ Solution Suite

The AppIQ Solution Suite is built on CIM, or the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). The Common Information Model (CIM), first demonstrated by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) in October 1999, is an open, common interface for the management of multi-vendor storage networks independent of operating platform, transport, or storage hardware platform.

According to Moulton, CIM is a way for objects like devices and programs to provide a definition of themselves, their properties, and their attributes in a language/model that is independent of the object itself.

For example, a management application that is seeking information about a device can make an inquiry in a standard, prescribed way without having any knowledge of the device, and the device can offer the information without any knowledge of the requestor.

Moulton contends CIM "is only one of the things that we think makes us unique. For instance, the fact that we manage from the application to the spindle is another differentiator." Most SRM solutions only manage as far as the file system level.

John Webster, senior analyst and founder of Data Mobility Group, sums up AppIQ succinctly: "Good company. Good people."

McDATA, AppIQ to Demonstrate CIM Next Month

CIM will get an additional boost next month when McDATA and AppIQ demonstrate a functionally complete CIM implementation in SNIA's CIM-SAN interoperability lab at Storage Networking World (SNW) in Phoenix, Ariz.

"CIM represents the most compelling delivery mechanism for open management in today's multi-vendor heterogeneous environments, and it also promises to break down the barriers to SAN deployment," maintains John McArthur, group vice president for storage research at IDC. "Collaborations on CIM development like the one announced by McDATA and AppIQ quicken the transition to standards, and I applaud the efforts the two companies are making to provide greater value to customers."

Using McDATA's enhanced application programming interfaces (APIs), the new CIM interface will demonstrate rich functionality for McDATA Intrepid Directors and Sphereon Fabric Switches that encompasses active provisioning, event management, modeling, and reporting.

"McDATA is leveraging AppIQ's unique expertise in CIM interface development to deliver open standards more expediently to our customers," says Peter Dougherty, McDATA's vice president of business development and strategic alliances.

The new interface was first demonstrated at the "plugfest" hosted by SNIA last month, and will also play a significant role in the upcoming CIM-SAN-2 demonstration at SNW in April. At the SNW event, AppIQ will demonstrate the CIM implementation with its AppIQ Solution Suite, and the two companies will work together to validate the interface.

"CIM-SAN offers the most significant evidence of the value customers receive when they operate a standards-managed SAN by demonstrating comprehensive application-integrated storage infrastructure management in a simulated heterogeneous production environment," states Doug Cahill, AppIQ's vice president of business development and strategy.

AppIQ's CIMIQ Enables Accelerated Deployment

McDATA has enrolled in AppIQ's CIMIQ Partner Program, and AppIQ is one of the first members of McDATA's OpenReady Developer Program.

AppIQ's CIMIQ is a software development platform and testing toolset enabling accelerated deployment of CIM/WBEM/Storage Management Specification-compliant products. CIMIQ is being marketed through the CIMIQ Partner Program to independent hardware and software vendors looking to shorten development cycles and reduce the costs associated with developing CIM-compliant products. Vendors that need to acquire CIM technology, as well as those with their own CIM products, can benefit from the tools available with CIMIQ.

"By offering CIMIQ to the marketplace, AppIQ is giving other vendors the opportunity to leverage its early development efforts while broadening device support for AppIQ Solution Suite and advancing standards-based solutions for customers," says AppIQ.

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