IBM has announced that Novell is joining Aperi, its open source storage consortium. Aperi will definitely apply to the Eclipse Foundation to become an Eclipse project. Thirdly, IBM will donate one million plus lines of code from its TotalStorage Productivity Centre to Aperi to form part of its storage management platform.

Eclipse is an IBM-founded, open-source community set on creating an open, universal platform for tools integration. It is now independent, with 80 members, and has evolved into a wider open-source project including data-management and web tools, business-intelligence and reporting software, and test-and-performance projects in its ambit.

Why choose Eclipse as Aperi's home? IBM spokesperson Meredith Hannon said: "The (Aperi) members have considered a few governance models including building a new open source community from the ground up. They determined the best approach is to propose a project to the Eclipse Foundation, which is established and respected."

"By working through Eclipse, project participants can focus on accelerating the adoption of storage management standards through open source - rather than spending many months (or even years) establishing the governance model and large community that Eclipse already has to offer. So Aperi will inherit its governance, press office, etc. from Eclipse, which is based in Ottawa, Canada."

"Eclipse has a board of directors - IBM and CA, among others, are on that board - and Aperi will have a project team working within Eclipse. That team will provide the technical leadership for the Aperi project."

The project will produce an open source code-base which storage management vendors can use to develop their own products for end users. The vendors will save time and money by sharing a ready-produced code-base. Sanders said: "Eclipse is a place to get open source off the ground," Code will be deliverable in 'months'.

Aperi members
Aperi members are IBM, Brocade, Cisco, CA, Emulex, LSI Logic, Fujitsu Ltd, IBM, McDATA, Network Appliance and now Novell.

Novell's contribution is described by Bruce Lowry, Director, Global Public Relations at Novell: "Our focus and potential contributions to the Aperi project will be the enablement of storage management at the operating system level (Linux). Novell is building SMI-S CIM providers for the volume management profiles for SLES (applicable to Linux 2.6 based kernels). These are candidates for either contribution or merging with the initial Aperi code. In addition, Novell is working on the replication profiles."

How is its Aperi project organised? "Novell, like other open source companies, contributes to projects in many places. Aperi is being organized under the Eclipse Foundation, of which Novell is a member and contributor (for example, our Identity Management Designer product is based on Eclipse). So Novell's storage management engineers will be working under the Eclipse/Aperi organizational structure of this open source project."

"Just like Novell contributes to the Apache foundation, where Apache is hosted and organized, Novell plans a similar model with Aperi under Eclipse. Another example is the contributions Novell is making for CIM enabling of the XEN virtualization project, that is hosted and organized under Xensource."

"CIM (the Distributed Management Task Force - DMTF) is a strategic direction for Novell for our management and management enablement strategy. Novell is actively contributing and building CIM-based providers for all aspects of management. SMI-S from SNIA is focused on the specification for storage management providers. Novell recently open sourced our CIM providers for commodity server hardware management (SMASH); they are hosted at Novell's Forge site."

Sun's resignation from Aperi is probably connected to its long-running issues with Eclipse concerning a perceived IBM-dominance of the organisation's staffers, and membership causing Sun to have a costly and wrenching change from its NetBeans technology.

Is Aperi IBM-led? IBM's Karla Norsworthy, VP for software standards, said: "Aperi is an open organisation with ten members. All actions are based on the opinions of the members and there is voting." There is conversation and consensus.

However, it is still correct to say that Aperi members have fairly strong relationships with IBM whereas Aperi opponents, such as EMC, HP, Sun and Symantec do not. This point will support the views of people seeing undue IBM influence.

It is also true though, that Eclipse is an effective foundation that has produced well-respected and widely-used code. IBM dominance or not; end users in their thousands use Eclipse-based product. The proprietary software tools market is being severely constrained by Eclipse popularity.

Other Aperi member views
Only four or five Aperi members are contributing code; McDATA, Fujitsu and IBM, for example. Cisco is not, according to spokesperson Lee Davis: "We have not yet decided how we will participate, or what we will contribute." Nor is LSI Logic; Steve Gardner, director of product marketing, Engenio Storage Group, said: "At this time LSI does not plan to contribute any code or developers to the Aperi initiative."

Why is LSI Logic an Aperi member? Gardner said: "LSI Logic supports the Aperi initiative, and has worked with the group on organizational and governance aspects. LSI supports Aperi through members of our Strategic Planning and Marketing staffs."

"LSI is also a member and a strong supporter of standards and the SNIA. ... As the Aperi project advances, we will review the needs and our ability to contribute. We will continue to develop and deliver standards-compliant products."

McDATA is not yet contributing code. Rob Zabrecky, McDATA's spokesperson, said: "We are currently evaluating our contributions to the Aperi effort. We are currently evaluating the IBM contribution to ensure our contribution is complementary rather than duplicative. That way we can move the initiative forward quickly."

How will McDATA organise its involvement: "McDATA intends to initially devote a senior level technical manger from our storage network management team to assist with the detailed project planning of the Aperi project. As the initiative progresses one or more full time developers will be involved to execute on the open source development."

"The McDATA engineers working on the Aperi open source will also work closely with McDATA's Standards and Emerging Technologies team which will drive the corresponding standards activities within the appropriate standard's bodies (SNIA, ANSI, etc.)."

These are the benefits McDATa sees from its Aperi membership: "McDATA sees the Aperi initiative as an opportunity to combine with other industry leading organizations to more quickly and effectively bring the cost of storage management down. (The benefit) McDATA sees in Aperi is having an open source base upon which to build our storage networking technology.

"The Aperi open source initiative will integrate open standards, such as SMI-S being driven by the SNIA, providing customers more flexible, comprehensive and feature rich storage network management solutions. This will allow McDATA to leverage the open source and focus our R&D on providing new capabilities to our customers, while enhancing interoperability among vendors."

How about NetApp? It is not contributing any code for now. Dave Kresse. NetApp's VP and GM Storage Management and Application Integration, said: "NetApp continues to be an avid and active supporter of both SMI-S and Aperi. What NetApp will specifically contribute is still being evaluated. However, at a minimum our contribution will likely involve participation of key technical resources and ensuring that applications using the Aperi framework correctly manage NetApp enterprise storage."

"NetApp participation in the Aperi initiative will be organized under our Storage Management and Application Integration Business Unit."

The timescale for vendors to produce storage management products based upon the Eclipse/Aperi code-base platform is probably in the quarters. Platform code will be distributed in months, according to an IBM spokesperson. Vendors could then build their products based on that and end-users might see the product appearing some time in 2007.