By Barbara DePompa
, 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media
The Storage Networking Industry Association's Storage Management Initiative (SMI) seeks to foster the development of an extensible, interoperable, open and functional interface for storage management.
So far, SNIA has delivered an interface, called SMI-S, short for the Storage Management Initiative Specification. Many of the computer industry's largest suppliers and a number of federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Commerce among others are members of the SNIA, supporting the SMI-S as a path to building some form of heterogeneous storage management support.
The big question surrounding SNIA's SMI effort is how well this evolving standard has performed for heterogeneous storage infrastructure management? So far, it seems the answer is not that well. While the major industry storage suppliers promise end-to-end storage management, federal IT organizations still find it difficult to manage more than one vendor's brand of storage.
If providing inclusive, heterogeneous management, enabled via standards such as SNIA's SMI-S effort is an overarching goal, SMI-S has yet to deliver on unified storage management. Instead, storage industry experts, such as Jon Toigo, founder and chairman of the Data Management Institute and CEO of storage consultancy Toigo Partners International, reported recently that SMI-S is hobbled by weak execution. In his
opinion, interfaces must be easier to deploy, incorporating higher quality and a more robust implementation. Current SRM interfaces have wildly differing degrees of functionality and usually render storage management software an efficiency drag on IT shops that must cope with multivendor storage configurations. Toigo expects some vendors may eventually offer “hooks” ranging from proprietary APIs to SNMP MIBs. So far, however, most storage industry suppliers remain reluctant to provide open management interfaces that would contribute to the commoditization of storage gear, he explained.
Ultimately, industry trends such as consolidation and virtualization technologies definitely help underscore the merits of centralized management. Toigo maintains that IT organizations must assert more pressure on storage suppliers to demand open, industry standards. A lack of definitive surveys or empirical analysis supporting cost savings and efficiency improvements only makes it more difficult to promote the need for greater interoperability in storage management solutions, Toigo explained.