EMC snubbed by open-source storage group lead by IBM

EMC snubbed by open-source storage group lead by IBM

EMC said it won't be part of an open-source storage management group that plans to develop software that can not only discover multivendor devices on a storage network, but also control those devices in a standard way.

Laura Sanders, vice president of storage products at IBM, said in a press briefing at Storage Networking World in Orlando Tuesday that EMC had been invited to be a part of the nonprofit organization called Aperi, which is made up of nine storage vendors, including Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Network Appliance, Computer Associates International and Brocade Communications Systems.

"It's a big day for storage," Sanders said, adding that the group is forming a community around an open-source system for storage resource management. "EMC was invited to join and haven't decided to yet. I hope they will."

However, Mark Lewis, EMC's chief development officer, said his company was surprised by the announcement and wasn't asked to join the group until "30 minutes before the press release went out."

"We're perplexed by two things. Why did IBM create this in privacy and at a Storage Networking Industry Association-sponsored event? Why would you choose to go off and do something without us?"

Lewis said EMC has no plans to join the group.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said IBM's creation of Aperi is a snub of Hewlett-Packard Co. because it purchased storage resource management vendor AppIQ in September. It's also a snub of EMC, "just because they wanted to snub EMC," he said.

A spokesman for HP couldn't be reached for comment at deadline.

AppIQ still has reseller pacts with HP rivals EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance because, just as Aperi hopes to do, each vendor needs the AppIQ technology to interoperate with other vendors' hardware for device discovery, monitoring and application integration.

But Duplessie said the Aperi group is "another motherhood-and-apple-pie feel-good kind of thing" that isn't likely to succeed.

"Storage management should be a given, but it isn't," he said. "If the vendors actually participate, users will benefit because being able to manage things will become easy and free. In practice, though, who knows, none of these kinds of things have actually done anything."

Ken Black, global storage architect at Yahoo, said that if the group produces an open-source storage resource management application, it would be one of the things his organization will look at to ease interoperability headaches.

"When you look at the number of petabytes of storage we have and how few people are managing it, it's incredible. So we're trying to find tools and methods out there that will ease that task," Black said.

The Aperi group will be managed by an independent, nonprofit organization with a multivendor board of directors. Sanders said Aperi will be modeled after the Eclipse consortium set up by IBM with other vendors to handle open-source projects to create development tools and frameworks for building software. "It's now the default development language for Java," Sanders said.

The storage open-source standard developed by Aperi will be based on the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), which defines the way multivendor systems can communicate with each other. Aperi is proposing a standard for how to manage devices from multiple vendors.

Other members of Aperi include CA, Engenio Information Technologies, Fujitsu and McData.

Anders Lofgren, vice president of BrightStor at Islandia, N.Y.-based CA, said his company has yet to determine how many people or how much money to dedicate to the open-source standards group.

"Admittedly, a lot still needs to be determined," Lofgren said. "A lot of that will be determined by the agenda of the user community itself."

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