Big Vendors Take Sides in Standards Shootout

Storage vendors are taking sides in the street, loading their six-shooters for a possible shootout over industry standards.

With data storage and so-called ILM (information lifecycle management) becoming hotter than the weather this summer, industry leaders are jockeying for position and political clout, much as they did in the identity management market a few years ago, when Microsoft started its Passport group and Sun Microsystems countered with the Liberty Alliance.

This time, it’s IBM leading the way in the Aperi consortium against a new one announced June 22 at Storage World Conference 2006 in Long Beach—one that still needs a name but features five heavyweight competitors in EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Sun, Hitachi Data Systems and Symantec.

Unlike Aperi, the five companies are working with established standards bodies to advance a common standard API (application programming interface) for storage customers.

The companies, collectively representing more than half the worldwide market share for enterprise storage management software, will work together to ensure that the SNIA’s (Storage Networking Industry Association) SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative specification) becomes a common, widely used industry standard.

Aperi is mainly composed of IBM’s OEM suppliers and partners, and it’s modeling its APIs using the Eclipse software development environment.

Eclipse, though now an open-source toolkit, originally was a project hatched inside IBM back in 2000; its project team is still largely populated by current IBM employees in the open-source community.

Click here to read more about the iECM (Interoperable Enterprise Content Management) Consortium.

IBM initiated the founding of Aperi in October 2005, announcing it at the Storage Network World conference in Orlando, Fla.

At the outset, other members included Sun, Cisco Systems, Brocade, CA, McDATA and NetApp.

Aperi is developing products for managing storage devices based on open-source software built using Eclipse but not necessarily using the 3-year-old SMI-S guidelines.

The idea was to create software that would allow vendors to write their own value-added applications for various hardware platforms without having to recreate code for every application.

“SMI-S is an industry standard, not a collaboration. It doesn’t provide a framework to actually manage open source and deliver products on top of it,” said Laura Sanders, VP of IBM’s TotalStorage Products and Solutions group, at the time Aperi was introduced.

Since then, however, Aperi has been unsuccessful in getting non-members EMC, HDS, HP and Symantec to join.

Sun then announced June 21 that it had withdrawn from Aperi due to irreconcilable differences in approach to storage management standards.

Now, a day later, the new five-company group has been formed.

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