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What is SMI?


The Storage Management Initiative (SMI) was created by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to develop and standardize interoperable storage management technologies and aggressively promote them to the storage, networking, and end-user communities.

This initiative is supported by many groups within the SNIA organization such as: the Storage Management Forum (SMF), SNIA's Technical Working Groups (TWG) and the Conformance Test Programs (CTP). The SMI will drive the SNIA activities in the following areas:

  • Technology development
  • Conformance testing of products
  • Outbound marketing, education and training


The SMI-Specification (SMI-S) is a vendor-neutral application programming interface (API ) specification that can be built into networked storage devices and management applications. SMI-S is a way to develop and standardize interoperable storage management technologies. Based on the Common Information Model (CIM) and Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) technologies from the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) and extended specifically for storage (as a SAN management interface), the SMI-S provides the following four features:

  • A common interoperable and extensible management transport
  • A complete, unified and rigidly specified object model that provides for the control of LUNs and Zones in the context of a SAN
  • An automated discovery system
  • A new approach to the application of the CIM and WBEM technologies from the DMTF

The SMI-S is large in scope and covers a wide variety of storage device functionality and concepts. To create focus for developers, the specification has been sub-divided into a series of “profiles and subprofiles,” i.e., storage array, fabric, server, storage library—”domain structures”. A device may support one or more of these profiles.

The ability to deliver a solid common foundation to storage products through SMI-S will allow vendors to focus on higher order features that involve automation and policy management, and deliver these products to market sooner with a broader spectrum of connectivity. This valuable benefit is a result of the contribution that SMI-S makes to the storage product development process.

SMI-S also allows storage management vendors to more easily discover and control devices through a single interface specification. SMI-S helps reduce the need to develop proprietary interfaces for the management of storage devices and will allow vendors to focus more on increasing quality of their solutions. The benefit to end users will be realized in the purchasing of products that conform to this specification. These products offer increased management flexibility and freedom of choice for IT Administrators by:

  • Providing multi-vendor configuration and control that reduces the need to purchase and operate individual management applications for each device or snap/replication solution
  • Enabling active management of devices from different vendors and eliminate the need to change management applications when new devices are deployed

In the long run, selecting SMI-S conforming products will reduce management costs through eliminating some of the complexity in configuring the SAN environment. Today many disparate applications are normally required to configure different vendor devices. Through auto-discovery and no-touch identification of devices, SAN topology mapping becomes simplified, which reduces manual administration, and repetitive operation in the day-to-day work flow.

As a standard, SMI-S will normalize management of storage resources from different vendors allowing an end-user selected SMI-S interface to manage devices from different vendors (arrays, switches, HBAs, Tape Libraries, hosts). This will cause a reduction in the administration and training requirements of supporting heterogeneous SAN devices and management applications.


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