A mix of vendors say they will jointly build their storage products around the Common Information Model, an emerging standard for the heterogeneous sharing of information between data-storage systems. Most striking, IBM and Sun Microsystems are part of the team, which also includes Hitachi Data Systems and Veritas Software. Veritas has perhaps the easiest time supporting CIM because it's the sole independent software vendor in the bunch. IBM already has data-sharing agreements with Hitachi, but until now it's ignored Sun on interoperability, even though Sun opened its storage specs years ago. Finally, Sun's storage customers can have some confidence that they won't end up on an island.
EMC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard are not part of the group. That diminishes the impact, says industry analyst Anders Lofgren at Giga Information Group. "We're not making a lot of progress unless all six of the major vendors are there."
Interoperability is a perennial concern for many larger companies. IT managers struggle to keep data flowing and flowing quickly when it has to run across components and software made by multiple vendors.
A vendor consortium, the Storage Networking Industry Association, is considered the industry's best hope for management standards. It supports CIM as a target vendors can shoot for.