CIM, Bluefin Storage Products on Deck

Industry trade association launches storage management initiative.

Veritas Software Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are among a number of companies planning to roll out storage management products in upcoming months based on the CIM and Bluefin specifications.

The plans come at a time when the companies primary trade association, the Storage Networking Industry Association, is gaining control of the two specifications, which use the Web-Based Enterprise Management, or WBEM, transport mechanism.

SNIA, based in Mountain View, Calif., last week announced the launch of its Storage Management Initiative, which will include the Common Information Model, Bluefin and WBEM specifications. The group will create a new, as-yet-unnamed committee chartered to advance storage management and the goal of SNIA to become or partner with an official standards-setting body, said Brad Stamas, chairman of SNIAs board of directors. The committee will explore ways to expand CIM beyond Fibre Channel products and with network-attached storage, Stamas said.

Veritas is counting on the success of the committee and the technology. Roger Reich, senior director of interface standards, will head the committee, and, internally, Veritas is readying a CIM-based product called GOM (Global Operation Manager), Chief Technology Officer Paul Borrill said in an interview.

GOM is a browser-based portal built on top of CIM, said Mike Tardif, vice president of technology strategy for Veritas, also in Mountain View. It will debut in mid-2003, will manage all Veritas storage software, and will probably also manage the backup software of vendors such as Computer Associates International Inc. and Legato Systems Inc., Tardif said.

The timing of GOM could be vital to its success. If Veritas doesnt roll out ahead of its rivals, it could lose user mind share, said one analyst.

"Ive seen these guys fail to execute many times," said Steve Kenniston, of Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., an ex-Veritas employee, who still thinks highly of the plan.

Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif., is also preparing for CIM software. Sun will soon announce a CIM-based upgrade to its StorEdge management suite, officials said. They declined to give details.

Industry officials, including Stamas, acknowledge that for CIM to succeed under the SNIA umbrella, the association must overcome the image many users have of it as being a marketing group controlled by vendor agendas and politics.

CIM itself underwent several years of development by the Distributed Management Task Force, and Bluefin was about two years in development by the Partner Development Process. Both groups were primarily engineering organizations, with far fewer participants than SNIA. The new SNIA work shouldnt take as long because its less complicated than the development, Stamas said.

Others have doubts.

"I love the idea of somebody coming up with a way to manage across everything, [but] Im always skeptical. I dont think its going to happen," said Marty Boos, chief architect and vice president of IS at Digital River Inc., an e-commerce and Internet marketing company in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Boos runs 50 terabytes of Suns storage, half of which is the OEM version of Hitachi Ltd. storage, to store the data of 32,000 end users. Digital River uses four management tools from Sun alone, he said.

"To me, thats the real big unknown: Can they make it happen quick enough to really impact the market?" said a storage vendor executive, who asked not to be identified.