StorageRevolution.com launched Tuesday with the goal of finding an open source solution to the difficult issue of storage management.
The group, co-founded by storage industry veteran Jon Toigo, bills itself as "the first consumer-driven open source initiative seeking to tackle one of the most intractable problems in storage technology today: building a commonsense framework for application-aware storage management."
The group plans to develop a management framework called CAPSAIL to help managers understand the requirements of their applications and to automate the provisioning of storage resources and protection services to application data. The ultimate objective is to allow users to plug in a mix of commercial and open source tools so fewer administrators can manage more data effectively. The initiative doesn't require vendor involvement, but vendors are invited to participate.
"We have waited too long for the industry to bless us with the 'Holy Grail' of data storage management," Toigo said in a statement. "Consumers need an application-facing storage management solution today. We need the tools to make fewer administrators more productive and we need the tools to drive out cost and realize demonstrable business value from our storage investments."
Toigo claims that adequate storage management solutions have yet to materialize because hardware vendors "have little to gain and much to lose by backing a cross-platform management solution. They are not terribly enthralled by the prospect of creating a management resource that will make it easy for a customer to deploy a competitor's gear in the same environment as theirs."
"It's a great and noble objective," said Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "Unfortunately, it may not be practical, since like it or not, it takes 90% of the power brokers on the vendor side to agree or these things just don't fly. Maybe Jon can guilt them into doing the right thing, but I fear the capitalistic realities will keep things status quo. SMI-S is as close as we come, and let's face it, it's still a long, long way away. IBM's Aperi movement promises similar possibilites in a more earthy-crunchy way, but a lot of stars have to line up before it goes anywhere, and that's with mighty IBM behind it.
"So, all in all, I applaud the effort," Duplessie said. "If he can gather up enough user support, he could snowball it into something the vendor world is forced to deal with, but unless that happens it will probably be like wrangling cats."
Toigo told Enterprise Storage Forum that "in theory, there may be little difference between the goals" of CAPSAIL and SMI-S, the Storage Management Initiative specification. "In practice, the differences are profound," he said.
"SMI-S is an effort spearheaded by an industry association, the Storage Networking Industry Association," Toigo said. "It is founded on the principle of 'co-opetition' between vendors who are rivals in the real world and have no vested interest in creating a management modality that would enable their customers to deploy anyone's storage platforms."
The result, he said, is a "political" process and a specification that has become too complex.
"By contrast, StorageRevolution's CAPSAIL initiative is completely open and driven by users, not by vendors," Toigo said. "Vendors may participate if they so desire, but their participation is not required. CAPSAIL will include, where necessary, support for user developed scripts, hacks and workarounds that will enable the visibility into and interaction with hardware that many hardware vendors have resisted volunteering on their own, either to SNIA or to their own customers."
StorageRevolution.com is free to participants. End users of storage technology are invited to participate and specify their requirements for a management solution. Those with design and coding expertise are invited to participate in modular development projects. The resulting framework will be free for use under a standard GNU/GPL Open Source License.
Toigo said the group has already had about a dozen offers from storage users willing to help, including a detailed design from one supporter describing a token-based messaging infrastructure that could provide a basis for the CAPSAIL framework.
StorageRevolution.com is funded by Toigo Partners International, a consumer-focused IT research and analysis and consulting firm, and by the Data Management Institute, a professional development community for data managers. TPI Technologies, a storage testing laboratory headed by CEO Jeremy Evans will provide the initial development environment and test bed for CAPSAIL.