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SNIA plots data policy specs

Welcome to the Frankfurt f-ILM festival.

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Storage networking body SNIA Europe has formed a group to get out and spread the data management mantra to those few of us not already suffering from ILM overload. The Data Management Initiative will be the Euro arm of SNIA's Data Management Forum, the body charged with developing specs and standards.

Chairing the DMI is Per Karlsson, a Swede who's been a DMF Euro evangelist for a year or so already. He says the need now is for European end users, resellers and integrators to make their voices heard, to ensure their needs are not bypassed or ignored by the US-based DMF developers. He adds that, unlike the DMF, the DMI will be free to join - once you've joined SNIA-E, that is.

Karlsson says user feedback is vital because work has already started in the US on specs for data classification, some of which could make their way into release 1.2 of SNIA's SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative specification) early in 2006.

"Today we can manage storage components consistently, the next step will be to manage data consistently," he said. That could mean standard APIs for replication and archiving, he suggested, ultimately leading to a DMF spec for centralised policy management.

"Our aim is to keep promoting ILM and also to spread the word on things such as data protection and long term archiving, for example by publishing case studies and best practice guidelines," he said.

Quite how much more promotion it needs is another matter - it was ILM overload in Frankfurt, with keynote speaker Michael Peterson of Strategic Research quipping that the TLA was the central topic of not one but 11 of the conference presentations. (I'd say 11 different presentations, but I suspect most of them weren't all that different - apart from the vendor's name on the slides, of course.)

A common theme among speakers was that "ILM isn't a product, it's a management practice," and only the hardened cynic would suggest that's because no-one yet has a practical ILM toolset.

Their story could change next year though, if Peterson is correct. He reckons there's more than 10 companies building automated ILM tools now, and that the first will come to market next year.

"We need those ILM standards finished," he said. "Working down the SMI-S path is very important."

Certainly, SMI-S has been more successful than many predicted, with all the major hardware and software vendors now supporting it. In the SNW labs, SNIA Europe was demoing the latest version 1.1 of SMI-S, which adds copy services and support for tape libraries. The copy services profile defines a standard set of configuration and monitoring features to do local and remote mirroring, plus snapshot and clone management.

SNW Europe itself did well, too. Registrations passed 1,600, and although that was undoubtedly boosted by the decision to make it free to register, more than 1,200 of those had actually turned up by the time the event closed yesterday, including over 800 end users.

SNIA-E chairman Paul Talbut said that the event has at long last surpassed its predecessor, StorageTek's EuroStorage conference. Attendances tumbled after STK handed control of EuroStorage in 2001 to US organiser ComputerWorld, which merged it with SNW and moved it first to Seville then Cannes.

Talbut added that since SNIA-E took over last year and moved SNW away from the seaside, the number of sponsors has shot up too. He said the next challenge is to boost the event's profile in the US: "Unless you get them over here and show them there's a big market, the Americans don't realise," he said.®

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