A Step Closer to Unified Storage Management

PHOENIX — Storage management should get a little easier after today’s announcement of a new industry interoperability testing program.

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) took the wraps off its Conformance Testing Program (CTP) for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) at the Storage Networking World conference. The SMI specification’s new client test suite for storage management applications builds on the work completed by storage hardware manufacturers and expands testing to include array, switch, fabric and host asset reporting from storage management applications.

SNIA Chair Wayne Adams called the announcement a “tipping point” for the end user community, which can now reap the benefits of storage interface standards to specify, purchase and integrate more than 200 products from seventeen storage vendors. Storage administrators can now call upon a common interface to streamline daily operational tasks. Adams called the CTP “test to one interface” a cost- and time-saving benefit for end users, who can now be assured that products bearing the CTP mark have been fully tested and certified to work together in any environment.

Chris Wilson, storage architect at MCI and member of the SNIA End User Council, called the conformance testing “critical to help the industry advance and address key issues such as interoperability and the increasing complexity of managing a storage environment.”

MCI personnel, along with many companies, grapple with increasing product sets and the need to improve automated asset discovery, fault management and storage provisioning. Wilson believes the industry needs a consistent interface, and that the CTP program will be a tool to ensure this consistency across multiple environments. Wilson said the CTP program will “help us at MCI drive industry standards and processes that will better serve our enterprise customers with stronger compliance enforcement, new fully automated processes and improved operational efficiencies.”

Ten storage vendors participated in today’s announcement at SNW: AppIQ, Computer Associates, CreekPath, Crosswalk, EMC, HP, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Sun and Veritas. CreekPath CTO Mike Koclanes said the new program addresses a missing link for end users, who can now take advantage of common product benchmarks to streamline their RFQ process. The SNIA CTP Web site (www.snia.org/ctp) includes product requirement checklists.

Representing one of the growing number of software participants, Steve Hand of Veritas said the announcement shifts the focus to addressing user issues. Vendor companies can use the test as additional information to gauge value add from the end user perspective. Being able to standardize across arrays gives users a leg up on automating processes in their corporation.

SNIA also disclosed plans to further its multi-vendor storage management efforts this year with iSCSI discovery and configuration, NAS discovery and configuration, and additional switch and fabric health and performance monitoring.

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