CIM: A Work in Progress

There's still work to do, such as bug cleanups, to get the Common Information Model-an evolving universal language for storage products-ready for prime time.

Kevin Gungiah, director of systems administration at Landmark Communications Inc.s The Weather Channel, in Atlanta, manages 22 terabytes of data on a Hitachi Ltd. Lightning 9960 SAN with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. switches. Gungiah said its easier to manage than most storage systems, thanks to standards-based, third-party software.

"We evaluated a lot of different vendors. Hitachis and Brocades software have several limitations in terms of functionality. The functionality I got from [startup AppIQ Inc.] was what I was looking for. I like the fact that its CIM-based," Gungiah said, referring to the evolving Common Information Model.

With a code freeze earlier this month, CIM—referred to in combination with its implementation standard as Storage Management Initiative Specification 1.0, or SMI-S, by the Storage Networking Industry Association—is in its final stages before vendors can start certifying storage area network and switch products with it this fall.

SNIA, in San Francisco, calls the process Information Conformance Testing Program, or ICTP.

But before that certification can begin, much work remains to get the standard ready.

The latest work includes bug clean-ups, the rollout of testing and development tools from private companies, and open-source versions of management servers. As of last week, testers registered 635 bugs—112 categorized as major—since reporting began last fall, said SNIA officials with access to the members-only tracking site.

"Most of the major bugs have been addressed. As we go through ICTP, [more] may pop up," said Steve Jerman, storage management architect at Hewlett-Packard Co.s Networked Storage Solutions Organization, in Boise, Idaho, and chair of CIM groups in the Distributed Management Task Force and SNIA.

"The majority of bugs are all focused around the object model, which is basically the meat of the specification," Jerman said. The rate of finding bugs has slowed in recent months, he said.

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