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Storage Industry Heavyweights Form Open-Source Community

A group of storage-industry leaders that includes IBM, Cisco Systems, Computer Associates and Sun Microsystems disclosed this week plans to form a new open-source community to build a common platform for managing all brands of storage systems.

Working initially under the project name Aperi, which is derived from the Latin for "open," the companies are joining forces to "push the open-source idea deeper into computing" and "free up the bottlenecks that can occur when a business has bought tape and disk storage systems from a variety of vendors," according to a release from IBM.

The other founding members of the group (which one member calls the Open Source Storage Community) are Brocade Communication Systems, Engenio Information Technologies, Fujitsu, McDATA Corporation and Network Appliance. Missing from the Aperi roster are several key storage industry players, including Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Symantec.

Each Aperi member is expected to contribute parts of their storage infrastructure management technologies to the project. IBM announced it will be first to pony up some code.

“IBM has a long history in promoting open standards across both hardware and software,” says Andy Monshaw, general manager of storage at IBM. “This new open-source community for the storage industry will help customers to dramatically lower the complexity involved in implementing storage solutions by providing customers more choices in selecting and deploying best storage products, regardless of vendor.”

The new open-source storage community reportedly will be modeled on the Eclipse Foundation, which began as an IBM project before the company released the Eclipse tooling framework as an open-source technology. Consequently, one role of the community will be to enable storage vendors to "develop a management platform within an open source-based consortium framework, while focusing on developing new capabilities that enhance their own storage products."

The group plans to build on existing open storage standards, including the Storage Networking Industry Association’s nascent Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). Version 1.1 of the spec is in the final testing phase.

David Patterson, Pardee Professor of Computer Science at U.C. Berkeley and president of the Association of Computing Machinery, believes the new community is a step in the right direction for the storage industry, but also generally for a world swimming in data. “Collaboration at this level is the only way we will manage and overcome the information explosion we are seeing today,” he says.

Aperi expects to release its first open-source storage code sometime next year.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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