EMC, HP and Symantec are officially staying out of the IBM-led Aperi group created last month, claiming it will not work alongside existing storage standards.

Aperi has been set up to devise open-source storage management software that it says will be compliant with the storage networking industry association's (SNIA) standard and form a library of low-level storage management functions such as hardware discovery.

However, while Aperi has the backing of Cisco, Sun, Network Appliances, CA and Brocade, alongside IBM, the three key players of EMC, HP and Symantec have all said they won't be joining.

HP has asserted that the group will by definition compete with the SNIA. HP has a clear interest in staying away from the standard as just last month it bought AppIQ, which offers one inter-operable standard for storage devices and has reseller deals with EMC, IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance.

HP has also emphasised its non-member status by releasing Storage Essentials v5.0 which complies with the SNIA storage management standard - SMI-S. One of HP's general managers, Frank Herbist, said: "HP's plans for 2006 call for a number of additional strategic investments in areas such as HP OpenView integration, multi-vendor backup and NAS management, and cluster and virtual systems management." New features such as backup reporting, NAS and tape management integration and iSCSI integration will be added.

Symantec has also said that Aperi is not aligned properly with SMI-S. As Symantec supports this, it cannot join Aperi, is its argument. It could join if the group agreed not to diverge from the SMI-S standards effort, it said. And lastly, EMC’s chief development officer Mark Lewis has said EMC has no plans to join the group.

Some in the storage market argue that the SNIA has been ineffective in creating storage standards for inter-operability and is being dominated by large vendors, such as EMC, with proprietary revenues to protect. Aperi could shake up the cosy SNIA club and get freely available storage management code produced.

An opposing view is that Aperi will benefit a few Linux shops and nobody else. Aperi members will still produce their own proprietary software and Aperi will fizzle out, or be rolled into the SNIA.

Another possible outcome is that group members will use Aperi code for their low-level storage management products and stop buying AppIQ technology from HP. Customers will see no difference at all.