Storage Expo in the UK was a two-day, middling-size exhibition with a preponderance of first day attendees, and accompanied by a set of vendor-biased presentations in a conference stream, adjunct with poor to middling presentation rooms.

SNW Frankfurt was a one and a half day, large conference stream in excellent presentation suites featuring vendor-neutral presentations accompanied by a middle-sized exhibition. Some 1,800 visitors attended it and feedback was positive throughout. They mainly went for the technology education afforded by the conference streams and used the exhibition for research and additional understanding about the technologies presented in the conference sessions.

Unlike SNW in the USA, the exhibition and conference are both organised by SNIA Europe, the Storage Networking Industry Association in Europe. The US SNW is a show and exhibition organised independently of SNIA but with SNIA contributions. That means the vendor-neutrality aspect of the SNW Frankfurt presentations is not so much a feature of SNW in the USA.

SNIA in Europe is very much about storage end-user education. It is also about storage networking standards.

SNIA in general

SNIA is an industry association, a trade association, that is also involved in standards-setting to that vendor members' products can work better together. SNIA Europe director Bob Plumridge, says: "In the past we created standards and threw them over the wall to proper formal standards authorities. Then we became a de jure standards organisation with SMI-S. No one else was willing to take it on. So we did it and took it to ISO for formalising."

SNIA has a good reputation with formal standards bodies, according to Plumridge: "We're now a fast track submitter to ANSI INCITS." (INCITS - the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards) is the first choice forum for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal de jure IT standards. INCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

"Likewise, with ISO, our technical work is regarded as top quality with a good focus."

SNIA and end users

The SNIA has had an end-user council for some time. What SNIA offers is vendor-neutral storage networking technology information. There are other organisations that offer storage networking expertise. Obviously there are large vendor user groups which will be vendor-inluenced, probably vendor-funded, and relatively restricted in their focus - the vendor's products in other words.

Plumridge said: "Large datacentre users are big enough to join vendor user groups and won't necessarily join SNIA."