Storage UPDATE--SMI-S--May 10, 2004

Storage UPDATE--SMI-S--May 10, 2004

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1. Commentary

- SMI-S Leaves the Starting Line

2. News and Views

- EMC Outlines Software Roadmap

- WinHEC 2004: Microsoft Looks to Redefine Hard Drives

3. Resource

- How to Configure Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator on a Windows Server 2003 Cluster

4. New and Improved

- Scalable LTO Tape Library

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary ====

by Elliot King, [email protected]

SMI-S Leaves the Starting Line

At the Storage Networking World Conference in Phoenix last month, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced that more than 100 products from 14 vendors had passed its testing program and conformed to the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). Industry leaders such as Brocade Communications Systems, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, and IBM all have products certified as conforming to SMI-S. Moreover, SMI-S 1.0.2 has entered the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Fast Track process and could become an ANSI standard as early as this summer. Although both of these announcements represent a major milestone, SMI-S's promise of simplifying management of heterogeneous storage networks, potentially from a single point of control, is still relatively far off--if indeed it will ever be realized.

SNIA has been working on the SMI-S since at least 2002. In broad strokes, the standard's objective is to develop and standardize interoperable storage management technologies, thus letting developers more easily support products from different vendors. Moreover, by providing a common management interface for network components, SMI-S could dramatically reduce the complexity of managing heterogeneous storage networks. If the vision is realized, introducing a product that conforms to SMI-S into a Storage Area Network (SAN) will signal the product's presence and functions to the other network components, and the product will be able to share its resources appropriately.

SMI-S rests on several factors that bode well for its eventual adoption. First, it's based on Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM), a broad set of management and Internet standard technologies developed by the well respected Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) to unify management of enterprise computing environments. WBEM in turn embraces the Common Information Model (CIM), a language and methodology for describing management data. The bottom line is that SMI-S neatly integrates into related initiatives.

Second, the standard will offer benefits to both vendors and end users. Vendors will no longer have to invest time and money to develop and integrate interfaces from multiple suppliers into their products. By using a common, standard interface, vendors can concentrate instead on adding features and functionality that will deliver real value to their end users. In addition to being able to bring better, more innovative products to market faster, vendors will have a broader market to address because all products that conform to SMI-S will be able to work with all other conforming products.

The advantages to end users are clear as well. SMI-S should dramatically reduce the complexity of simultaneously managing a lot of different SANs. Currently, because enterprises typically run multiple OSs and different applications on each OS, most enterprises have no choice but to integrate storage networks from multiple vendors. Claims of interoperability are based on specific vendors cutting deals to swap specifications for their APIs. But as Jamie Gruener, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group, pointed out in a recent Webcast, managing heterogeneous SANs frequently just doesn't work well. End users are confused and have discounted many vendors' interoperability claims. SMI-S could not only reduce the complexity of managing different SANs, but could offer end users a certain degree of confidence that products will, in fact, interoperate.

A standard interface also offers end users other benefits. Companies don't have to lock into a single vendor and can instead work with best-of-breed point solutions, and deploying new technology should be easier. Finally, more efficient network management could reduce downtime.

Consequently, it isn't surprising that despite the difficulties to date, enterprises are still very interested in consolidating storage-network management. According to a survey of storage decision makers by the Yankee Group, last year 37 percent either implemented or planned centralized storage management solutions. Another 35 percent indicated that a single management approach for storage was a high priority.

But despite all this momentum behind SMI-S, doubt remains about whether the standard will work. Some observers believe that vendors aren't entirely committed to SMI-S. Moreover, the steps that an enterprise will have to take to move from legacy systems to a system that conforms to SMI-S aren't entirely clear. Also unclear is how API-swapping programs, which are the basis for interoperability now, will integrate with SMI-S. In short, although SMI-S has left the starting line, the standard has a long way to go to reach the finish line.

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==== 2. News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

EMC Outlines Software Roadmap

At EMC Technology Summit 2004, EMC outlined its plans to be the leader in the information life-cycle management market. According to EMC, nearly 2500 customers and partners attended the company's fourth annual technology conference in Orlando, Florida. At the conference, EMC laid out a roadmap for future products that emphasizes information life-cycle management. "We want to help you get the most value from your information, and we want to do it with the lowest total cost," said Mark Lewis, executive vice president of open software at EMC. Software obtained from EMC's acquisition of Documentum, LEGATO Software, and VMware will play a large role in the company's information life-cycle management plans.

On EMC's roadmap is an update next quarter for the EMC ControlCenter family of storage and device resource management software. ControlCenter 5.2 will include integrated service management features. Future versions will include change, workflow, and Web-services management. Later this year, EMC will update its VisualSAN software to include support for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) standard. Documentum 5.3 will launch this year with improved security and collaboration, as well as email archival support based on LEGATO Software technology. And among the key features that will be added to Documentum 5.4, which will ship by the second half of next year, is enhanced storage-aware content repository capabilities.

WinHEC 2004: Microsoft Looks to Redefine Hard Drives

At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2004 last week in Seattle, Microsoft unveiled a new plan to redefine how hard drives access data. The company has been in discussions with hard disk manufacturers about adding flash memory either built in to or alongside hard drives to minimize drive access time. Although initially targeted at laptop users to help conserve power, the initiative could change the way hard drives are designed.

The plan is in the early stages of development, and products that take advantage of the new technology aren't expected for several years. Microsoft is suggesting that hard drive manufacturers include a NAND flash chip (inexpensive flash memory whose digital circuits use a particular type of logic gate) to serve as a write buffer and work with the software giant's next-generation OS platform, code-named Longhorn. The plan does have hurdles to overcome, though, including flash memory's lifespan, which is about 100,000 read-write cycles. In a worst-case scenario (writing data every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day), the flash memory could die in less than 2 years. The company is also exploring other options, including adding a dedicated memory bus to hard drives.

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==== 3. Resource ====

How to Configure Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator on a Windows Server 2003 Cluster

Click the link below to learn about two ways to install Distributed Transaction Coordinator (DTC) on a Windows Server 2003 cluster. Remember that before you do the installation, you need to enable network DTC. The following URL also provides a link to a Microsoft article that explains how to enable DTC.

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==== 4. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Scalable LTO Tape Library

Exabyte announced the Exabyte Magnum 6x60 Linear Tape-Open (LTO) tape library. The Magnum 6x60, which includes six drives and 60 slots, provides as much as 24TB of capacity, and features data transfer speeds as fast as 1.5TB per hour, sells for $16,999. The library's most important feature is its scalability, which lets customers scale to eight drives and 143 slots through a simple firmware upgrade. When fully scaled, the library offers 57TB of capacity. Exabyte also released the 221L Plus and 110L Plus, updated versions of two of the company's other LTO tape libraries that include new features, such as powerful remote-management capabilities. All three tape libraries are available now.

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