Symantec and HP: Aperi standard clashes

The pair's decision not to join Aperi brings the number of storage vendors outside the group to three

Hewlett-Packard and Symantec have joined EMC in staying out of the IBM-driven Aperi storage group created last month. (See “EMC Refuses to join Storage Group”, Computerworld, November 7).

Aperi has been set up to devise open-source storage management software that group members say will be compliant with the standards set by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Aperi will form a library of low-level storage management functions, such as hardware discovery, its supporters say.

Aperi has the backing of Cisco, Sun, Network Appliance, Computer Associates and Brocade, as well as IBM, which drove its establishment.

HP is refraining from joining because it says Aperi will, by definition, compete with the SNIA. HP has a clear interest in staying away from the standard — it recently bought AppIQ, which offers one interoperable standard for storage devices and has reseller deals with EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance.

HP has also emphasised its non-member status by releasing Storage Essentials v5.0, which complies with SMI-S, the SNIA storage management standard. An HP general manager, Frank Herbist, says HP’s plans for 2006 “call for a number of additional strategic investments in areas such as HP OpenView integration, multi-vendor backup and NAS management and cluster and virtual systems management.” New features such as backup reporting, NAS and tape management integration and iSCSI integration will be added.

Symantec also says Aperi is not aligned properly with SMI-S and says because it supports SMI-S, it can’t join Aperi. It says it could join if the group agreed not to diverge from the SMI-S standards’ effort. EMC chief development officer Mark Lewis says EMC has no plans to join the group.

Some in the storage market argue that the SNIA has been ineffective in creating storage standards for interoperability and is being dominated by large vendors such as EMC, which have proprietary revenues to protect. The feeling is that Aperi could shake up the cosy SNIA club and get freely available storage management code produced.

An opposing view is that Aperi will benefit a few Linux shops and nobody else. According to that line of thinking, Aperi members will still produce their own proprietary software and Aperi will fizzle out or be rolled into the SNIA.

Another possible outcome is that group members will use Aperi code for their low-level storage management products and stop buying AppIQ technology from HP, with end-users not noticing any difference.

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