Storage Basics: Deciphering SESAs (Strange, Esoteric Storage Acronyms): Page 3

The storage industry is rife with so many acronyms it's almost impossible to keep on top of them all. Our Storage Basics series adds one of its own while uncovering the mystery behind many others. Part 1 of the SESAs series looks at FCIP, iFCP, SoIP, NDMP, and SMI-S.
Posted November 20, 2003

Mike Harwood

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The final technologies we will review in this article are the Network Data Management Protocol (NDMP) and the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). Today's network environments are becoming increasingly heterogeneous with multiple hardware and software vendors represented. From time to time, operating systems are upgraded, and over time there is a diverse range of backup media technologies and devices used on a network.

In such environments, backing up and restoring data can become a management nightmare, as each software and hardware backup product can interact with applications in different ways. NDMP is designed to facilitate interoperability in these types of heterogeneous environments. In a typical backup configuration, a backup occurs from the server to a backup device with the backup software controlling and managing the entire process. Individual software vendors use their own protocols to manage the backup data transfer.

In an NDMP backup configuration, the backup data flows through the server to the backup device using a common interface, regardless of the backup devices used or other hardware and software considerations. NDMP is an open network protocol that effectively standardizes the functional interfaces used in the backup and restore process.

NDMP is based on a client/server architecture that is comprised of three separate components: the NDMP host, the NDMP client, and the NDMP server. The NDMP host is the primary device that stores the original data. A NDMP server will then run on the NDMP host and is responsible for managing the NDMP operations. The NDMP client is the backup management software that controls the NDMP server.

To learn more about NDMP and NDMP specifications, refer to the official NDMP Web site at


SMI-S is a relative newcomer as well, but is expected to become a significant component for managing heterogeneous computing environments. Developed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), SMI-S is based on the Common Interface Model (CIM) and Web-based enterprise management (WBEM). The primary function of SMI-S is to simplify the administration of complex storage networks by allowing interoperability and integration of hardware and software.

SMI-S provides the ability to manage a heterogeneous storage network from a central location and eliminates the need to manage each device with a separate management application. As an added benefit, the increased interoperability gives organizations the ability to purchase any SMI-S SAN device, regardless of manufacturer, without having to worry about whether or not it will work with other vendors' products.

For more information on SMI-S, refer to the Web site at

In this article we’ve reviewed FCIP, iFCP, NDMP, and SoIP. The next Storage Basics article will continue looking at some of the more promising emerging SAN technologies, including Infiniband, VI, and DAFS.

» See All Articles by Columnist Mike Harwood

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