Of the SNIA’s mission goals, trust is perhaps the most challenging. Trust for customers equates to reliable and predicable performance, vendor responsiveness to issues or new requirements, consistency in product development to avoid forklift upgrades or obsolescence, and the ability to scale working solutions throughout the broader enterprise. In a society nurtured on planned obsolescence, exploitation of the market, and profit above all else, trust is already a rare commodity.
Establishing trust in the more conservative and demanding storage market may often require vendors to sacrifice their immediate self-interest in order to ensure the success of the industry as a whole. Switch interoperability, for example, was retarded by several years due to the stubborn effort of one vendor to dominate the market by subverting open systems initiatives.
As an association of overtly for-profit vendors, the SNIA itself has had to deal with the trust issue. Some industry pundits view the SNIA as a conspiratorial society whose mission is to dupe poor customers into buying an immature and unproven technology. SNIA vendor members, however, are not Goa’uld System Lords intent on ruling the universe.
Like other industry associations, the SNIA brings together both complementary and competing vendors to promote a technology on the understanding that the success of individual members is tied directly to the success of the industry as a whole. Progress towards the goal of providing efficient, complete, and trusted shared storage solutions is thus accelerated or constrained by the degree to which participating members cooperate or compete under the SNIA umbrella.
Bringing trusted solutions to a broader customer base is also facilitated by the involvement of customers themselves. The SNIA’s end user initiatives and new customer channels such as www.storagenetworking.org are intended to more directly engage the consumers of storage networking technologies into the cycle of solutions discovery and features prioritization. This will make the goal of providing trusted shared storage solutions more attainable and more closely aligned with real customer needs.