EMC refuses to join storage group

Aperi has been set up to develop storage management software that interoperates with different products, but EMC is unimpressed

EMC says it won’t be part of an open-source storage management group that most other major storage vendors have joined.

IBM and nine other vendors are setting up Aperi, an industry group dedicated to developing open-source storage software that can discover multi-vendor devices on a storage network and control those devices in a standard way.

The formation of Aperi was announced at the Storage Networking World conference last month.

At the official launch of Aperi, IBM storage products president Laura Sanders said EMC had been invited to be a part of Aperi but hadn’t decided to yet.

Mark Lewis, EMC’s chief development officer, says EMC was surprised by the announcement and wasn’t asked to join the group until “30 minutes before the press release [announcing its formation] went out.”

“We’re perplexed by two things,” Lewis says.

“Why did IBM create this in privacy, and at a storage networking industry association-sponsored event? Why would you choose to go off and do something without us?”

Lewis says EMC has no plans to join the group.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, says IBM’s creation of Aperi is an attempt to snub Hewlett Packard because of HP’s purchase of storage resource management vendor AppIQ in September. It’s also a snub of EMC, “just because they wanted to snub EMC,” Duplessie says.

A spokesman for HP couldn’t be reached for comment.

AppIQ still has reseller pacts with HP rivals EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance because, just as Aperi hopes to do, each vendor needs the AppIQ technology to inter-operate with other vendors’ hardware for device discovery, monitoring and application integration.

Aperi is just another motherhood-and-apple-pie,
feel-good kind of thing

Duplessie says Aperi is “another motherhood-and-apple-pie, feel-good kind of thing” that isn’t likely to succeed.

“Storage management should be a given, but it isn’t,” he says. “If the vendors actually participate, users will benefit because being able to manage things will become easy and free. In practice, though, who knows, none of these kinds of things have actually done anything.”

Ken Black, global storage architect at Yahoo, says that if the group produces an open-source storage resource management application, it would be one of the things he will look at to ease interoperability headaches.

“When you look at the number of petabytes of storage we have, and how few people are managing it, it’s incredible. So, we’re trying to find tools and methods out there that will ease that task,” he says.

Aperi will be managed by an independent, non-profit organisation with a multi-vendor board of directors. Sanders says Aperi will be modeled after the Eclipse consortium set up by IBM, with other vendors handling open-source projects to create development tools and frameworks for building software.

The storage open-source standard developed by Aperi will be based on the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), which defines the way multi-vendor systems can communicate with each other. Aperi is proposing a standard for how to manage devices from multiple vendors.

Other members of Aperi include Computer Associates, Fujitsu and McData.

Anders Lofgren, vice president of CA’s BrightStor division, says CA has yet to determine how many people or how much money to dedicate to the open-source standards group.

“Admittedly, a lot still needs to be determined,” he says.

“A lot of that will be determined by the agenda of the user community itself.”

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