Sun has left Aperi, the IBM-led open source storage management initiative, causing a big fracture in the world of storage standards.

Aperi was founded in October, 2005, and led by IBM, with other members including Brocade, CA, Cisco, McDATA, NetApp and Sun. It was seen as a deliberate snub against EMC and HP and also a reaction to the comparatively weak progress of the storage networking industry association (SNIA) and its system management interface specification (SMI-S) effort.

Since then Aperi has had a conspicuous lack of success in persuading non-members EMC, HDS, HP and Symantec to join. Now Sun has resigned and joined the holdouts in what is effectively an anti-Aperi and pro-SMI-S group, stating: "Sun believes this initiative should be governed by the SNIA."

There is now the distinct possibility of a storage management schism in the industry.

Why has Sun changed sides? Either Aperi is going nowhere or there is going to be a renewed SMI-S effort within the SNIA - or both. The Sun statement said: "Sun plans to participate in software projects under the auspices of that organisation." This suggests that the anti-Aperi group has decided to develop its own storage management software under the auspices of the SNIA.

It effectively means that Aperi is being positioned as a non-standard storage management effort. With all the Aperi members also being members of the SNIA they will have to put up or shut up. In practice that means that they will be forced to climb down and submit Aperi to governance by the SNIA.

To do otherwise would make their public position one of supporting the SNIA in all its efforts except for storage management. This is an obvious nonsense. They should support the SNIA fully or not at all. If they don't support it fully their competitors will be able to criticise them for being non-standard and their customers will most probably insist on their full support of the SNIA.

An IBM Tivoli spokesperson, Meredith Hannon, said:"IBM fully supports activities to further develop open standards for storage - and has long been involved in SNIA. However, the open source collaboration model, like the one being used for Aperi, is one that has taken off and its results are all around us -- it has re-energized the whole IT industry. In the last decade, the open source model for collaborative development has proven itself to be an effective way to bring open standards to different systems and we think it's the best way to achieve open, standards-based storage management."

Aperi may be heading for irrelevance and its members looking hard for face-saving exit strategies.