In another deal touted as a step toward making it easier for corporate users to combine storage devices made by different vendors, IBM and Hitachi on Wednesday announced an agreement to license key interfaces to each other in order to make some of their products more interoperable.
Under the agreement, IBM is licensing the key storage application programming interfaces (API) for its Shark storage array to Hitachi and the company's Hitachi Data Systems subsidiary. In return, Hitachi is licensing APIs for its Lightning 9900 storage device to IBM, said the two rivals.
The APIs provide users and developers with instructions on how to access and share data between different storage devices. By sharing the interfaces with each other, IBM and Hitachi said, users will be able to incorporate a common set of data-management functions that can run on each of the competing product lines.
Today's agreement follows a wider cooperative deal that was announced two days ago by IBM, Hitachi and four other vendors involved in the storage industry. That included the certification of two multivendor storage-area network (SAN) designs and the signing of bilateral arrangements aimed at simplifying joint customer-support efforts.
Users have been calling for more cooperation between rival storage vendors in order to reduce the complexity of developing and maintaining SANs that are built around a mix of different products (see story). In response, vendor executives have promised the kind of moves that are being detailed this week.
Mike Harrison, director of business alliances at IBM's storage group, said today that software updates stemming from the deal with Hitachi should be ready for release within three to six months. Once the updates are available, he added, users will be able to add the new interoperability features to their installed storage devices.
The agreement "addresses a very, very basic customer request in giving them more flexibility to use what assets they have on their [data center] floors," Harrison said. The functions enabled by the APIs being licensed between the two companies include data replication and copying capabilities, plus performance management tools.