Sun Storage Manager Is First to Support CIM

Spec lets storage wares speak the same language.

Sun Microsystems Inc. this week will launch the industrys first mainstream storage management software based on the Common Information Model specification.

CIM is a still-developing standard designed to make storage hardware, software and network connections communicate in the same language, so a product from one vendor theoretically could manage products from another.

Suns ESM (Enterprise Storage Manager) 1.0 will be available immediately, starting at $15,000, Sun officials said.

"We have the ability to automate vs. whatever [EMC Corp.s] AutoIS is putting out," said Mark Canepa, executive vice president of Suns Network Storage Products Group. "We believe open standards are in the best interest of the customer."

AutoIS is EMCs umbrella management suite that can control non-EMC products but has been criticized for being a proprietary design.

ESM 1.0 will support servers using Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Linux and Windows 2000. Besides CIM, which gives ESM 1.0 functionality such as storage topology mapping, device management and health monitoring, the product is also based on technology that Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., got by acquiring Redcape Policy Software Inc. in 1998. An upgrade early next year will be Suns first to manage competitor products, Canepa said.

Chuck Boeheim, assistant director of computing services at the U.S. Department of Energys Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, in Menlo Park, Calif., runs 160 terabytes of Suns storage hardware as a cache for a petabyte tape system from Storage Technology Corp., of Louisville, Colo. "Ive got enough problems just managing different models of one vendors array," Boeheim said. But the physics research organization, which has one of the worlds largest databases, is gradually adding other storage, such as the Hitachi Ltd. equipment that Sun resells. For that, ESM 1.0 would be useful, he said.

Whether CIM-based products will succeed has been debated recently. The Storage Networking Industry Association this month announced a new division, called the Storage Management Initiative, to further develop the specification. But CIM has weaknesses in supporting non-Fibre Channel and network-attached storage devices and could be several years away from ubiquity, SNIA Chairman Brad Stamas, also based in Louisville, said recently. ´