CIM standards: how close are we, and what are customers asking for? (Automated Storage Management).From a historical perspective, the evolution of new standards for the storage industry is a natural progression and will be a necessity for the industry, moving forward. Just think how complicated a system that manages an electrical grid would be if it were not standardized standardized
pertaining to data that have been submitted to standardization procedures.
standardized morbidity rate
see morbidity rate.
standardized mortality rate
see mortality rate. . There would be increased costs to manage the flow of electricity, inconsistencies in how the electrical grid was managed, and, likely, a heightened number of outages and, possibly, spikes.
From a storage perspective, the rapid growth in the decade-old industry is only elevating the standards issue for customers. Customers are already seeing the clear benefits of increased competition through decreased cost in acquiring new storage technologies and also superior reliability, performance, and availability in new systems that are being offered today.
However, combining these new systems with the evolution and progression of storage networking from a mainframe/monolithic architecture to a networked NAS (1) See network access server.
(2) (Network Attached Storage) A specialized file server that connects to the network. A NAS device contains a slimmed-down operating system and a file system and processes only I/O requests by supporting the popular or SAN architecture, the complexity of managing multiple storage systems from multiple vendors has been multiplied.
Additionally, with storage access methods such as SAN and NAS coming to a head and new, required applications that demand specific and sometimes varying quality of service levels, the solution again grows more complex.
Meeting these availability and performance levels can be done through multiple levels of virtualization An umbrella term for enhancing a computer's ability to do work. Following are the ways virtualization is used.
Partitioning the computer's memory into separate and isolated "virtual machines" simulates multiple machines within one physical computer. throughout the storage infrastructure. With all of these technologies emerging and converging con·verge
v. con·verged, con·verg·ing, con·verg·es
a. To tend toward or approach an intersecting point: lines that converge.
b. for the customer, how do you deliver this solution in a manner that lowers costs and management complexities?
The solution to dealing with this complexity is straightforward, yet difficult to achieve: Standards, based on industry input that is truly open and allows customers the ability to manage, control, provision, monitor, and fix any vendor's storage system in any configuration.
Today's IT infrastructures are truly poised to take advantage of the new storage management standards. Customers are already seeing vendors offer new CIM-based storage management software and can expect to see new hardware and additional features based on the standard over the next 12-16 months.
Therefore knowing what is here today and what will be here tomorrow is essential to understanding the longevity longevity (lŏnjĕv`ĭtē), term denoting the length or duration of the life of an animal or plant, often used to indicate an unusually long life. of your storage infrastructure, as well as how to best plan to take advantage of these emerging standards.
The tools of today which are based on CIM-compliant technologies are laying the groundwork for more advanced heterogeneous management, provisioning, and control features of tomorrow. Therefore, understanding the different approaches vendors are taking towards reaching standards based storage interoperability The capability of two or more hardware devices or two or more software routines to work harmoniously together. For example, in an Ethernet network, display adapters, hubs, switches and routers from different vendors must conform to the Ethernet standard and interoperate with each other. may be complicated and needs to be understood by customers.
There are a two primary ways vendors are working to achieve interoperability:
Exchanging proprietary APIs and protocols: Interoperation through exchanging proprietary APIs and protocols only, does not translate into the long-term solution customers are demanding. This only allows customers to perform select functions based on the lowest common areas of interoperability. In addition, the vendors spend time making these point-product to point-product adapters that cannot be reused in a standard way.
Many vendors are engaging in "swapping" proprietary APIs in the effort to develop an immediate, short-term patch for customers demanding interoperability. However, this is not considered true interoperability as it is still based on vendors' proprietary APIs and not on true, open standards Specifications for hardware and software that are developed by a standards organization or a consortium involved in supporting a standard. Available to the public for developing compliant products, open standards imply "open systems;" that an existing component in a system can be replaced . As the products with these proprietary APIs evolve, many engineers are kept busy upgrading these adapters.
For example the practice of API (Application Programming Interface) A language and message format used by an application program to communicate with the operating system or some other control program such as a database management system (DBMS) or communications protocol. swapping between storage vendors would allow a customer to get an extra device supported with the functions that an application provides, whereas if the application used the open standard, device support will become a non-issue.
Integrating Bluefin's CIM/WBEM for the control APIS of devices: This approach provides the customer with the ultimate in manageability as it combines control over the metadata, configuration, monitoring, and other functions found in the Control APIs. This enables vendors to achieve the end-goal of delivering truly automated storage services. To date, CIM/WBEM is beginning to take hold and will continue to expand as vendors look to empower their customers.
This approach also provides customers with the ability to implement plug-and-play storage devices from multiple vendors, while still controlling and managing from a single, CIM/WEBM-based storage-management platform. In order to do this, vendors need to instrument the native control functions with Bluefin management agents throughout the system so as to make the holy grail Holy Grail: see Grail, Holy.
A very desired object or outcome that borders on a sacred quest. There are several Holy Grails in the computer business. of easy storage management and automated provisioning The ability to set up new communications services for customers automatically. Carriers use automated provisioning to set up their network based on customers' requirements. Such systems control all network devices from a central console and greatly speed up deployment time from days to a reality. By integrating Bluefin throughout the management software and hardware systems, customers will fully realize the levels of vendor choice, flexibility, and automation.
In support of the Bluefin specification, it has now been adopted by the Storage Network Industry Association and is being evolved into an accepted storage industry standard in cooperation with the DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force, Inc., Portland, OR, www.dmtf.org) An industry consortium founded in 1992 that is involved with the development, support and maintenance of management standards for PCs. Its goal is to reduce the cost and complexity of PC management. .
The Standard Vision
What customers should see as a result of effective implementations of CIM/WBEM is essentially a single storage-management platform that can manage storage services at the application level. Considering every application has different types of data such as logs, records, metadata, etc., it is important to manage storage with this in mind. Looking deeper, note that each type of data for specific applications has different attributes like access, value and life cycle. Bluefin and the standards included in it will lay the structural foundation for creating and managing the specific storage services for each data type. These managed storage services can then manage the varying quality of storage service levels required for each application (see Figure 1).
Once this model is achieved, administrators will be able to define the service using service-level objectives to satisfy the attributes of each data type. For instance, they will be able to create gold, silver, and bronze service levels for each different data type depending on the levels of availability and/or performance that are required.
The cornerstone to successfully deploying a solution that takes the complexity out of provisioning storage as a service is storage-management software. The management software will automatically configure See configuration.
(software) configure - A program by Richard Stallman to discover properties of the current platform and to set up make to compile and install gcc.
Cygnus configure was a similar system developed by K. multiple resources into a storage specific service providing the ability to develop new ones or expand existing services. At the same time, the standards-based storage-management software will automatically maintain the designated service levels and reconfigure To change the status of something. resources automatically to maintain the appropriate levels in the face of changing load from the applications.
Bluefin starts by providing a common model for each type of storage resource and a standard protocol between these agents and the clients (management applications). Essentially each agent acts as a translator between the arrays, switches, HBAs' proprietary control interface and the management software clients using standard protocols such as XML XML
in full Extensible Markup Language.
Markup language developed to be a simplified and more structural version of SGML. It incorporates features of HTML (e.g., hypertext linking), but is designed to overcome some of HTML's limitations. , HTTP HTTP
in full HyperText Transfer Protocol
Standard application-level protocol used for exchanging files on the World Wide Web. HTTP runs on top of the TCP/IP protocol. , etc.
Without these standards, organizations still could complete these types of translations, however it would involve a lot of work in order to allow the two sides to communicate. Propri-etary adapters would need to be created from each vendor's management client to everyone else's device. This would get very complex, very quickly considering the sheer number of client vendors.
In many cases, engineers working on solving this challenge without standards have seen work in the labs put on the back shelf due to the complexity and the fact that these solutions are obsolete before they are even available.
Using standards-based proxy agents throughout will allow for one adapter A device that allows one system to connect to and work with another. An adapter is often a simple circuit that converts one set of signals to another; however, the term often refers to devices which are more accurately called "controllers. that every vendor could use. For example, a vendor could write one proxy agent and integrate it into the products (see "A" in Figure 2). These proxy agents will speak a proprietary language on one side (see "B" in Figure 2), to ensure vendor product differences are secured, and 'the common/open language on the other (see "C" in Figure 2). These proxy agents, which are starting to emerge from vendor labs today, are able to bring legacy systems into the open standards world, without compromising the varying vendor proprietary architectures.
The challenge with proxy agents is that the customer must install the support on a host somewhere in the network before the device can be managed. Therefore, vendors are currently working on embedding 1. (mathematics) embedding - One instance of some mathematical object contained with in another instance, e.g. a group which is a subgroup.
2. (theory) embedding - (domain theory) A complete partial order F in [X -> Y] is an embedding if agents into new products natively, enabling discovery of the devices directly through the embedded Inserted into. See embedded system. agents. This eliminates the proxy agent drawbacks and allows plug-and-play management across multiple vendor systems.
Lastly, taking the approach to integrating Bluefin-enabled agent instrumentation throughout storage software and systems will ultimately merit richly featured storage management software, more automated means of storage management and true provisioning of storage as a service (see Figure 3).
The type of storage service shown in Figure 3 can be allocated from multiple vendors' devices. Customers will see this kind of solution only if those devices and storage resources have control interfaces that conform to Verb 1. conform to - satisfy a condition or restriction; "Does this paper meet the requirements for the degree?"
coordinate - be co-ordinated; "These activities coordinate well" the CIM/WBEM industry standard.
The Standard Reality
Vendor implementation of CIM/WBEM support is in the offing coming; arriving in the foreseeable future.
visible but not nearby.
See also: Offing Offing for customers who are planning and looking to find new, better ways to manage disparate storage resources.
Standards compliant storage software options are already emerging in the marketplace and initial customer acceptance is proving a high-degree of demand for fully open storage offerings. The next 6-12 months will indeed shape the speed at which standards are developed and deployed as customer feedback, demands and input will play a large role in. what is to come.
Mark Carlson Mark Carlson can refer to:
Santa Clara (sän`tä klä`rä), city (1994 est. pop. 217,000), capital of Villa Clara prov., central Cuba. , Calif.)