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SNIA Technology Mission.

The demand for large storage applications is creating a rapidly evolving industry. No longer merely a peripheral to localized computing resources, networked storage is mission-critical technology on its own right. The ever-rising demand for storage availability and volume from applications ranging from data warehousing to multimedia means that enterprises are spending increasingly large sums of money on storage products. The storage area network (SAN) technology, enabled by such high-speed serial links as Fibre Channel, can provide much needed shared storage networks with dramatically reduced cost of ownership. IT customers also want SAN technology that is reliable, secure, flexible, scalable and manageable, with industry standards that would ensure interoperability among all existing and developing systems.

The SNIA was established to respond to this pressing need for standardization and interoperability in the emerging storage networking industry. Technically, the SNIA's mission is to develop Standards, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), white papers (on issues and challenges as well as solutions), demonstrations of interoperability and Forums for discovering and resolving technical issues. To that end, the SNIA has formed the SNIA Technical Council and working groups to accelerate the standardization process. The Technical Council's goal with the strong support from the working groups is to provide vendors with the support they need to build storage networking products--both hardware and software that interoperate and can be mixed to form complex storage interconnect. This interoperability will provide the basis for the storage solutions customers need. The standardization will enable IT organizations to shift much of their total cost of ownership from management labor to purchasing storage equipment a nd management tools. Today, the SNIA consortium of over 110 companies is aggressively establishing this storage networking-based vision of the future.

As a first step toward industry-wide standardization, the SNIA has identified several impediments to interoperability in the existing environment: First, the physical and logical level transport protocols for the Fibre Channel Interconnect do not always interoperate for devices from multiple vendors. Second, there is "white space" or missing-functionality at all levels that must be supplied/sketched to enable solution-level mix and match. Only controlled and tested limited configurations and topologies today. Third, many device have their own specific discovery and management interfaces. This prevents the promised unified, central management from becoming practical. Fourth storage device management, when enabled over the storage network, needs to be secure to prevent anarchy or unauthorized use. This security needs to be architected to eliminate risk to user data. Fifth, data security becomes an issue because the physical data links may no longer be fully secure. There are also other challenging problems on a device-type base for arrays, tapes, and switches. These specific device-type problem areas are also being addressed as resources permit by selected SNIA work groups.

The Technical Council will identify industry-wide issues and challenges, and will create and maintain a roadmap of the standardization process. The Council will also monitor other standardization efforts to prevent duplication of efforts. It will recommend and prioritize the areas where SNIA is the proper and most efficient venue for defining th The Council will accept technical proposals from SNIA members.

SNIA has had active work groups for well over year. The primary areas being covered are Storage Network Management, Backup and SAN FILE Systems. Within these areas, several work group have been launched and are active. They have already produced new APIs, proposed standard and/or submitted to formal standards bodies. In many cases, modifications to existing ANSI or ISO standards have been proposed. This summer several new work groups have been proposed and launched. The SNIA web site contains the most current information about the status of these new workgroups. In general, information about the workgroups and work areas, including the chairman of each team and contact information, are publisher on SNIA's web site. This is to ensure that SNL members can get involved in any topical area of interest. New topics can be proposed to Howard Alt, the SNIA Chief Technical Officer. He will sponsor the creation of board-approved workgroups to address the highest priority topic: Additional work group ideas have been proposed to Howard Alt, the Technical Council for consideration and the recommendation to the board.

The SNIA has studied the progress of other industries toward interoperability, taking the best practices and integrating them early on to allow SNL to set the pace for the industry by acceleratin standards and interoperability.
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event; Storage Networking Industry Association
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Sep 1, 1999
Previous Article:SNIA Technical Council.

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