The Storage Networking World Spring 2004 show in Phoenix, Arizona wrapped up last week. Organized by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), this show continues to go from strong to stronger each year.
While Comdex shrinks and other trade events struggle, SNW attendance rose once again — from 1800 last year to over 2500 this time around. That plus the plush surroundings — the JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort — as well as the quality of the food, giveaways, and festivities indicate that the storage industry may be a lot healthier than some might think.
According to the most recent International Data Corp (IDC) numbers, 2003 proved to be the first up year for storage since 1999, and the trend is expected to continue.
"We see a resurgence in storage in 2003," reports IDC analyst David Reinsel. "Sales of hard disk drives, for example, had a good year."
The big news from the show, however, concerned the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), which is aimed at integrating the management of disparate products within a heterogeneous, or multi-vendor, storage arena. SNIA announced that over 100 products from a total of 14 vendors have passed the stringent SNIA Conformance Testing Program (SNIA-CTP).
"For the first time ever, end users will be able to select storage management products with SMI-S conformant interfaces, which will help make storage simpler to implement and manage," states Ray Dunn, chairman of the SNIA Storage Management Forum. "SMI-S will ease the day-to-day routines of storage management, and that specification will be widely adopted in all new products by the end of 2005."
The 14 vendors to achieve conformance were Brocade, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, CNT, Dell, Sun Microsystems, StorageTek, Silicon Graphics, QLogic, McDATA, Network Appliance, HP, IBM, and LSI Logic. All of these vendors were represented at the release, and they spoke about SMI-S alleviating the complexity of discovery and provisioning, as well as laying a solid foundation for policy management.
"SMI-S is vital to all vendors in regard to commonality of understanding of storage management," said Anders Lofgren, vice president of BrightStor product management at Computer Associates. "With a common platform to write to, product development will be accelerated, and end users will gain more freedom of vendor selection, as well as lessened complexity."
So far, SNIA's CTP program has focused on array and switch products. Hundreds more storage hardware and software tools are already SMI-S enabled, but have yet to be put through the rigorous testing procedure. Further, SMI-S version 1.02 has been sent to ANSI and is up for adoption as a standard by that body.
"The launch of the first set of conformant products illustrates major momentum and maturity in the storage market," says Gabriel Broner, senior vice president of storage and software at Silicon Graphics. The SGI products that passed the CTP are in the company's InfiniteStorage line.