IBM's Aperi open source storage management initiative looks like being sidelined by a rival group of vendors which intends to develop code within the SNIA - something Aperi was denied.

The storage management spat started when Sun left the IBM-led Aperi group yesterday, and intensified today when it announced a new group, to develop storage management code, in opposition to Aperi. The new group includes HP, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and Symantec, as well as Sun.

The new group plans to build on the system management interface specification (SMI-S) created by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a specification which has been slow to turn into a workable standard. The new group aims to add specifications to SMI-S as well as programming interfaces for a Web services framework for advanced storage management. It also plans to finally create first reference implementations of SMI-S.

The group will contribute staff, specifications, and code, and will give ISVs and other third parties access to a common, standards-built pluggable platform so they can develop storage management services. HP's AppIQ product is likely to form a substantial part of this pluggable platform, and Sun will contribute common interface model (CIM) provider code. Symantec will provide disaster resilience and security functions.

Ash Ashutosh, HP's StorageWorks' CTO, said: "Standards such as SMI-S create a level playing field where vendors compete on innovation and value, and the ultimate winner is the end user.

With an SMI-S reference code base storage network management products should be better able to manage multi-vendor storage networks, reducing users' costs and lock-in to product suppliers.

Ironically, it was frustration with SMI-S and SNIA's procedures that led to the formation of Aperi in the first place, according to reports from November, 2005. Asked why the Aperi effort was not launched from within SNIA, Jamie Gruener, IBM Tivoli marketing manager said: "What this is about is very different to SNIA. SNIA does not develop code that will be a platform for accelerating SMI-S."

IBM had approached the SNIA Board of Directors asking for Aperi to become an initiative of the SNIA, but this would have meant a change to the SNIA's charter so that it could develop code, according to HDS CTO Hu Yoshida's blog.

The new anti-Aperi group is now making the same approach to the SNIA charter, but Sun is very confident that the SNIA's board and membership will agree to the change in charter that will allow code development, and the SNIA is hinting that it will happen.

"Software development within the SNIA makes a lot of sense," said Ray Dunn, vice-chair of the SNIA Board of Directors. "The SNIA represents the majority of storage industry players and is the most logical place for new collaborative initiatives to come to fruition. The SNIA's mission to include a strong end-user community makes it a perfect environment to accelerate and overcome storage management challenges that plague customers through collaborative software projects."

It appears that IBM's Aperi group has lost the storage management code base battle but may well have won the war.