Friday, June 04, 2004

Storage Management and SMI-S

Note: Too many acronyms. A list is at the bottom of this post.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend the TSNUG meeting. It was an interesting meeting listening to the developments taking place on storage management front and frank discussion among storage end-users, vendors and consultants like me. More information about me at ANDIROG SYSTEMS INC.

SMI-S Presentation and Viewpoints

John Webster of Data Mobility Group made presentation on SMI-S, the SNIA initiative in storage management. How is SMI-S going to impact the storage pain points of the end-users? His talk was a good introduction to SMI-S and present status. How big of a impact is it going to be, remains to be seen?

Some of the interesting points brought up in the meeting were:
  • In SMI-S, the storage management application is the client. The devices are the providers of management information. [Update 07/Jun/2004: Thank you Rudy for the suggestion on clarification.]
  • Several vendors have achieved the SNIA SMI-S compliance status for the product. The compliance seems to have achieved through wrapping existing vendor management functions in to SMI-S compliant module instead of developing native SMI-S compliant modules.
  • Security of SMI-S implementation was a concern. The issue of security threat to one device by poor SMI-S implementation by another device vendor or the client vendor, was raised during the meeting.
  • The issues of backward/forward compatibility of different versions of SMI-S implementations and different vendors having different level compliance in a user environment were raised. Is this going to create similar nightmare as today in SAN about the firmware version incompatibility between different Fibre Channel devices?
  • No formal conformance testing procedure for the client. Will this cause other concerns similar to security in client implementations?
  • SMI-S will allow users to administer basic functions of managing different network storage devices through a single interface such as creating LUNs, zoning, LUN masking etc.
Personal Opinion on SMI-S

Overall, my impression is that SMI-S clients are going to be "one more" administration interface for basic management of heterogeneous network storage devices similar to CA Brightstor, HP Openview, etc. Is SMI-S going to lessen the management pain of the users or add to it? Looking at the history of management clients failing to deliver on promises of "ease of management" the outlook is not as bright as SMI-S may be leading us to believe.

Acronyms
SMI-S Storage Management Initiative - Specification
SNIA Storage Networking Industry Association
TSNUG Toronto Storage Networking User Group (SNUG)

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