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.
Some experts question the integrity of ICTP, which is made up primarily by the same companies seeking to be certified. Certification will cost up to $10,000 per product, with discounts likely for SNIA members and those that test in volume, Jerman said. Full disclosure will not be required; test-takers will control which results are announced to the public.
“I … wouldnt mind seeing [the results]. If youre going to sign up for one of those projects, you should put it on the line,” said Jim Davis, chief technology officer of WBEM Solutions Inc., the Pinehurst, N.C., company that takes its name from the DMTFs Web-Based Enterprise Management standard, of which the original CIM is a part.
“I agree; I need to know whether its done on the first try or not,” said Gungiah, of The Weather Channel.
“We all know the vendors arent going to subject themselves to honest-to-God, apples-to-apples testing, certainly not without control over the results,” said analyst and customer advocate Jon Toigo, in Dunedin, Fla.
Companies that create tool kits focused on CIM and SMI-S are gaining traction nevertheless. AppIQ will upgrade its Solutions Suite 1.7 to Version 2.0 this month, according to CEO Dave Lemont, in Burlington, Mass. The new version has discovery and visualization, asset management and chargeback, scenario advisers, policy-based automation, historical trending, and development tools, Lemont said. The company stands out for being CIM- centric. “If it doesnt have CIM, well translate it,” he said.
Another product, AppIQ for File Systems, will launch in September. The product is based on the as-yet-unannounced, recent acquisition of Helmetta, N.J., startup XStormTech Inc., Lemont said. In addition to the end-user product, AppIQ develops CIM tools for most of the industrys major players, he said.
WBEM Solutions will soon launch Java and C-language server products, Davis said. J WBEM Server 1.0 will be available this quarter, and C WBEM Server is due next quarter, he said. The C version uses less memory; both will cost $50 per license, he said.