Big Guns Take Sides in Standards Shootout

News Analysis: The five companies are working with established standards bodies to advance a common standard API (application programming interface) for storage customers.

The white hats and the black hats are taking sides in the streets of storages Dodge City, loading their six-shooters for a possible clash 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 like the identity management market did a few years ago, when Microsoft started its Passport group and Sun Microsystems countered with the Liberty Alliance.

This time, its 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 SNIAs (Storage Networking Industry Association) SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative specification) becomes a common, widely used industry standard.

Aperi is mainly composed of IBMs OEM suppliers and partners, and its 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.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick 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 doesnt provide a framework to actually manage open source and deliver products on top of it," said Laura Sanders, VP of IBMs 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.

Next Page: A new group.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...