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Big Players Gear Up For Storage World Conference

A specification drive and product demonstrations will highlight the showcase of the latest in enterprise-class storage

EMC, IBM, Veritas, Hitachi, StorageTek, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and Quantum are among the storage industry heavyweights gearing up to showcase the latest in enterprise-class storage gear at next week's Storage World Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

The show, scheduled to open Monday and run through Wednesday, attracts leading IT administrators who are tracking storage products and technologies. Its program of conferences, tutorials, and exhibitors will include all the major players in the storage universe.

The show's tutorial tracks will cover everything from the bare basics--one Monday afternoon panel, entitled "Understanding Storage Network Concepts," will lay out the technology and terminology in plain English--to advanced sessions on such topics as iSCSI, the SCSI over Internet protocol.

While there are myriad products and technologies to be announced and demonstrated at Storage World, at least two stand out as the vendors prepare for the show.

The first involves a major specification drive. The Storage Networking Industry Association will be beating the drum for its storage management spec, SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification), It's pushing the standard in an effort to make managing all storage components, no matter what their maker or model, possible through a single, unified interface.

"We're going to be explaining what we're doing, and how companies can get involved," said Gene Chesser, a member of SNIA's board of directors, and technical director of HP's Network Storage Solutions Group.

A presentation hosted by Roger Reich, also a SNIA board member and the chair of the group's Storage Management Initiative, will be held Tuesday to lay out the specification and how it can streamline managing a multivendor storage network.

But Storage World attendees won't get a chance to see SMI-S in action. The SNIA will not be bringing the huge hardware demonstration to Anaheim that it debuted at last month's Storage Networking World in Phoenix.

In other pre-conference news, IBM on Thursday announced a pair of upcoming storage visualization products, and it will be demonstrating its TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller at Storage World, said Clod Barerra, IBM's director of storage strategy.

The Volume Controller, which integrates visualization software with a pair of IBM eServer xSeries servers, will be trotted out for attendees. Analysts got their peek at the technology and the to-ship-this-summer Volume Controller on Thursday, but this will be the first opportunity for IT professionals to scope out IBM's latest storage initiative.

Also on IBM's agenda is a demonstration of its StorageTank technology, the basis for the announced SAN File System Protocol, which creates a single file space that can be shared by multiple application and storage servers. The idea is to give large-scale enterprises, particularly those spread across wide geographic areas, the ability to tie numerous SANs into a single web.

But attendees should keep both feet firmly on the ground if they want to get the most out of Storage World, said Steve Duplessie, a senior analyst with Enterprise Storage Group. "Look for solutions that solve the really boring problems," he recommended. "The storage business talks about grand ethereal problems all the time, but we still don't know how to do backup."

It's the fundamentals such as backup and storage restores that should drive IT administrators as they're checking out the latest and greatest, Duplessie said. He also recommended keeping a watch on long-time storage schemes and initiatives that are finally bearing fruit.

A good example: storage area networks. "SANs have been discussed for the last seven or eight years," said Duplessie, "but now with iSCSI, SANs can finally reach the masses."

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