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Aperi dies on its arse

Time-wasting diversion keels over

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Like Monty Python's famous dead parrot, the futile Aperi open source storage system management project has fluttered to earth because IBM has removed the funding nail that was keeping it upright. Aperi is now openly dead for all the world to see.

The whole idea has been a waste of time and effort from start to finish. IBM led a group including Brocade, CA, Cisco, Emulex, Fujitsu, LSI Logic, NetApp and Sun, which set up Aperi in October 2005. The setting up effectively rejected HP and EMC from the group. HP had bought the SMI-S-compliant AppIQ storage management company earlier in September that year, SMI-S being the SNIA's (Storage Networking Industry Association) storage system management standard initiative, widely held then as now to be inneffective.

It was suspected that IBM set up the Aperi group as a response to this.

NetApp's CTO, Jay Kidd, has separated storage system management into view APIs and control APIs. A view API is an interface for a system management product to look at an EMC, an HP or other storage product and find out what is going on. A control API is the means whereby it can tell the storage product to do something and its these control APIs that tend to be regarded as proprietary property and kept close to suppliers' chests. SMI-S has ineffective control API support from vendors.

As an example of this, read storage practitioner Chris Evans' blog entry on the topic.

Aperi was set up to remedy some SMI-S ills and also, fairly obviously, as a competitive marketing weapon to beat EMC and HP with. However, as IBM knew - it's blindingly obvious - you can't have a storage standard if lots of the main players don't support it, and if the ones that do aren't serious about funding it.

So Aperi set out on its blundering path to the storage cemetery. Symantec refused to join in, saying Aperi wasn't properly aligned to the SNIA's SMI-S product. The SNIA, of course, being an industry body, couldn't tell half its members to stop an effort that was going to divide the storage management area and be a self-defeating effort. It was hard enough getting SMI-S off the ground without these other SNIA members trying to fly their own alternate kite.

In June 2006 Sun abruptly left Aperi and offered its support to the primacy of the SNIA and its SMI-S project. IBM offloaded Aperi onto the Eclipse Foundation and said Aperi would have a formal relationship with the SNIA. Novell also joined the Aperi 'community' then.

IBM said at the time: "This is the latest step in Aperi's efforts to give customers more choices for deploying open storage infrastructure software - based on an industry-standard platform developed by the open source community... IBM plans to contribute more than one million lines of code from its TotalStorage Productivity Center software to the proposed Eclipse project." Wow.

As for the SNIA, IBM said: "While SMI-S is the open standard specification that SNIA members support and drive, Aperi is the open source implementation of that standard. By providing a tested implementation of SMI-S, which standardizes storage management technologies for storage hardware interfaces, Aperi will drive greater industry support and wider adoption of SMI-S." Noble words - but they turned out to be meaningless.

June 2007 came around and the initial Aperi code was ready to download for testing a development. But nobody wanted it.

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