SNIA helps to fill standards void

Standards are often the last items to be put into place when a new technology gains acceptance. Typically, vendors rely on proprietary solutions to drive the technology initially and begin working on interoperability only after customers ask for such features.

That has been the case with storage-area networks (SANs), which are gaining more common interfaces because of work by the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA). Incorporated in December 1997, the nonprofit trade association has focused on helping vendors craft standards and ensure interoperability in 10 product areas, including Fibre Channel, IP storage and security.

In the Fibre Channel area, SNIA members work with the International Committee for Information Technology Standards' T11 technical committee to design interface and management standards for SANs.

SNIA has also focused on enhancing SAN management functions with support for the Common Information Model, a standard developed by the Distributed Management Task Force Inc. The model enables applications to exchange performance and management data more easily.

After helping define various interfaces, SNIA works to ensure that products work together. The organization's Interoperability Committee has two subgroups focused on that goal. The Demos subgroup organizes interoperability at trade shows, and the Interoperability Conformance Testing Program subgroup has set up a laboratory to test products.

"Because vendors are working more closely via SNIA, customers are finding it easier to connect different SAN products," said Steve Daheb, director of product marketing at Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

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