HP Sticks to SRM Guns

HP looks to continue with an initiative acquired with AppIQ

November 1, 2005

3 Min Read
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By now, the benefits of open standards for storage software are clear, especially when it comes to storage resource management (SRM) applications. (See Users to SNIA: Help Us Manage.)

But there's a disagreement over who can best lead the way in developing open-source software for SRM. Last week, in an announcement that opened a hornet's nest among storage vendors, IBM loudly entered the arena with its Aperi open source initiative. (See Aperi Appears Amid Questions.) Today, the other shoe dropped, as Hewlett-Packard said it will not back off the open development program AppIQ began shortly before HP acquired the startup last month. (See AppIQ Unifies SAN and HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine.)

When HP bought AppIQ for an undisclosed price, which industry sources place in the $250 million range, one of its primary intentions was to create an industry-standard platform for storage management. Many people in the indusry see IBMs Aperi initiative as a broadside attack on HP, as IBM and partners wage their own war for dominance in open-source management code.

HP’s response to Aperi? Let the best developers win.

“You have to remember, open source is not open standards, and open source does not mean free or low cost to a customer,” says Ash Ashutosh, AppIQ founder and new CTO of HP storage management software.

“You still have to go build a solution. The question is, What does work? One works, and the other...we don’t know yet!”At least one consumer isn't willing to get into the standoff. Jeff Hill, systems and storage administrator for Denver, Colo.-based Exempla Healthcare, says he’s not taking sides in the open source debate. Although he uses HP Storage Essentials 5.0 with AppIQ technology built in, Hill says he’ll take any SRM package that can work across all platforms.

“I think standards in the storage arena are well overdue,” he says. “Anything we can get in standards across platforms is welcome. I’m looking for something that makes sense and is well thought out.”

AppIQ wrote its software around the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Common Information Model (CIM), a move that helped the software vendor secure OEM deals with storage vendors Engenio, Hitachi Data Systems, Silicon Graphics, Sun, and HP before the acquisition by HP. But even AppIQ has a ways to go when it comes to full open support. While Hills gives HP’s Storage Essentials 5.0 high grades for having an intuitive interface and allowing him to manage storage and servers from one console, he still can’t use its provisioning tool.

“We have Cisco SAN switches, and zoning for that switch isn’t integrated yet into the provisioning piece,” Hill says.

So there’s work to be done across the board in storage management standards. The question is, will having two open software groups accelerate the efforts or stymie them? Storage software titans EMC and Symantec also bear watching. Both are on the sidelines because they haven’t joined either group.Frank Harbist, VP of HP’s storage software, says he’s not convinced that Aperi and HP’s OpenIQ programs will be mutually exclusive. “It could go any number of ways,” he says. “I see a lot of potential scenarios -- some could be very good, others not so.”

AppIQ’s other OEM partners have decided to continue to sell its software post-acquisition, which gives HP strong allies in its standards-based approach. AppIQ OEM partners Engenio and Sun are also part of Aperi, but Harbist says that doesn’t exactly make them turncoats.

“I think their participation in Aperi is a good thing,” he says. “I think they’ll understand the intentions and objectives there, and they’ll understand our intentions and objectives. We’ll have more information by doing that.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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