Industry Standards: The Answer to True Integration?
Although it’s impossible to predict the future, one question looming over the industry is whether storage technology has reached the point where true integration is even achievable. Even with all of the obstacles and challenges in the path to true integration, Ross seems to think that true integration is still achievable because the industry is continuing to work together to develop management standards and many individual vendors are trading APIs to help achieve management interoperability.
Lam agrees with Ross’ assessment, although he argues it seems more like pulling teeth than real cooperation. “More and more industry standards and organizations, such as SNIA, are coming up with ways to force vendors to work together for the common goal of customer satisfaction,” says Lam.
Although standards groups do seem to be holding on to what seems like the only ray of hope for true integration, it still may be quite some time before it becomes a reality. Lam says that larger vendors with enormous resources can offer all kinds of strategies and ideas for a common standard, but their expectation is that all of the other vendors will follow their lead.
“However, this will not be the case. Other major players will not only not join the camp, they will start to create their own industry standards — as it is always tough for the big players to get together and truly follow the same set of protocols,” he continues.
SNIA – A Step in the Right Direction
Many folks believe that SNIA has done a lot of good work in getting competitive vendors to come together and map out how to best achieve commonality in networked storage management. “The standards are actually defined by the standards bodies like IETF and T11 committee of the INCITS, but the storage community belongs to all of the organizations,” says Ross.
Lam agrees that with all of the issues facing true integration, the best chance is with a common set of protocols such as CIM-SAN. “The only thing that has a remote chance to succeed for true integration is something like CIM,” contends Lam. He also says that it seems as though many vendors have at least publicly stated their support for CIM.
“If vendors can truly comply, the consumer/customer has a good chance for true integration,” says Lam. “But short of that,” he continues, “some other integrating agent, or neutral platform such as a separate storage appliance, will remain the only viable way to truly bring integration and interoperability today, rather than waiting for tomorrow.”
Cooperation Is Equivalent to Survival
Ross says that EMC believes that cooperation is equivalent to survival. “Customers will continue to demand commonality in networked storage management solutions, and those companies that do not work toward that end will most likely not be around in the future.”
Even though it looks as though there is a possibility for true integration, there are still many people out there who believe that the only way to change the state of true integration is through major cooperation between vendors.
Even though this seems like no big deal, and even though many vendors say they are more than willing to cooperate, there are still those like Lam who feel that “saying you are going to cooperate and actually cooperating are two very different animals.” If vendors actually cooperate, he says, “that will be the day. The track record has proven otherwise, though.”