SNIA moves proposed data archive standards ahead

Version 1.0 of the Extensible Access Method (XAM) specification complete

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) announced that it has completed version 1.0 of the Extensible Access Method (XAM), a specification for the way organizations store metadata that describes fixed content, such as e-mails, medical records and financial data.

The specification is expected to be available within the next few months as a software development kit, which will offer vendors a single framework for applications to search and retrieve archived data in the future regardless of how it was created. Wayne Adams, SNIA's chairman emeritus, said the proposed XAM standard and development kit is the first fruit of a reorganization of his organization that began last year and is focused on developing methods to bridge management gaps between multi-vendor storage platforms.

In conjunction with the XAM initiative, which is currently awaiting approval from SNIA's membership before moving to the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards for review, the vendor organization has also announced a working group to define a format standard and best practices for long-term data archival.

"Usually, when a company's data is archived for 10-plus years, they can't access it anymore because the format they used to store is it is gone," Adams said. SNIA chairman Vincent Franceschini said some companies even go as far as to archive servers, applications and data together in order to be able to access information in years to come.

Together, the long-term archiving working group's format and the XAM standard are expected to offer organizations a way to archive data and search it for retrieval in a simple format.

The archive working group, called the Long-Term Digital Information Retention and Preservation Technical Working Group, was formed after end-users were surveyed by SNIA last year and 70% said they were "highly dissatisfied" with their current methods of recovering and interpreting archived digital data more than 50 years old.

In addition to the archiving initiatives, SNIA Monday announced an alliance with the Green Grid consortium, which was formed one year ago in order to develop best practices for energy efficient data centers. The SNIA will offer information around best storage practices for achieving more efficient storage infrastructures, including more efficient storage networking technologies.

Franceschini said one problem with determining best practices for energy efficiency in the data center with regards to storage is that there is very little data around just how much power storage consumes in the average data center. Current figures are anecdotal and range from 5 to 40 per cent, he said.

SNIA will be helping to establish some baseline of data for the Green Grid consortium to use to develop a metric to measure data center efficiency.

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