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SMI-S Slogs Along

Much has been made of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) -- at least, by vendors with SNIA-certified implementations (see Playing Nice, the Standards Way). But these same vendors are taking varying amounts of time -- some, it appears, quite a lot of time -- getting products to market.

As the industry-approved management protocol for multivendor storage networks, SMI-S could theoretically make life easier for nearly anyone with a SAN. The specs let management programs interact with SAN devices from any vendor, as long as gear is equipped with an SMI-S agent.

At least that's the plan. To take advantage of SMI-S calls for software hooks to be created for specific devices that provide a view into their inner workings, opening them up for monitoring, configuring, and other supervisory functions. Together, these hooks comprise SMI-S agents, or clients. APIs (application programming interfaces) also are required to make these agents available to management applications. The apps in turn need APIs to get their virtual hands on the devices and make the whole process work.

From the device standpoint, 13 vendors have created SNIA-approved agents to make their wares manageable:

In addition, a couple of non-certified vendors are getting involved. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has outfitted its MDS 9000 switches with an integral SMI-S client that developers can write to. Even though Cisco didn't participate in the last SNIA conformance test fest in April, the company plans to do so when the test is repeated this fall.

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