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New SNIA lab hopes to earn users' trust

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has launched its fifth lab, which aims to improve management of tape libraries, iSCSI and NAS.

To continue delivering on its goal of ensuring that storage products meet industry standards before users open their checkbooks, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has launched the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) Lab 5.

Lab 5 comes on the heels of wide industry support for the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). Because the lab will be expanding on the success of SMI Lab 4 -- which included tests for host bus adapters (HBAs), tape libraries and network-attached storage (NAS) -- expectations are high.

There are three main goals that SNIA members hope to achieve with the SMI Lab 5: extend the specification to manage iSCSI storage, be the proving ground for the next version of SMI-S and demonstrate that SMI-S can be used to manage global data centers.

Rob Callaghan, SNIA member and senior product manager at ADIC, Redmond, Wash., said that Lab 5 has added more "depth and breadth" with its new management tests for tape libraries, iSCSI and NAS, as well as finishing the HBA tests started in Lab 4. "Lab 5 gets us one step closer to monitoring everything in the data center," Callaghan said.

Festival of plugs, t-shirts

As part of the launch, SNIA hosted a plugfest event at the SNIA Technology Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where most of the major vendors showed up to plug in and test their products, have meetings and socialize. "Everybody wears the same colored t-shirt to show there's no competition," quipped Ray Dunn, member of the SNIA board of directors and industry standards marketing manager at Sun Microsystems Inc.

Vendor lovefests notwithstanding, is there anything missing from the SMI Lab 5? Randy Kerns, Senior Partner at the Evaluator Group, Greenwood Village, Colo., had hoped to see storage area networks (SAN) covered more. "SAN to SAN linkage, control, monitoring and reporting are important areas right now, and I think we have many vendor-specific tools and no coordinated way to handle this," Kerns said.

As for the inevitable Lab 6, Kerns mentioned object-based storage and some of the different implementations for global namespaces as technologies that should be monitored. "To highlight emerging technologies and interoperability issues, we'll continue to have one or two labs a year as long as SNIA exists," said Callaghan.

Ultimately, added SNIA member Dunn, SNIA and SMI-S exist so that users will trust vendors more. "Through the work we do in our labs and in our committees and working groups, users can be assured that the devices they are buying have been tested and will integrate well."

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