Tag Archives: communities

Does SNIA matter?

If your not into enterprise storage and live in France you might confuse the acronym with the Brotherhood of Infirmary Anaesthetics (Syndicat National des Infirmiers-Anesthésistes) but if you relate it to storage you obviously end up at the Storage Networking Industry Association.

This organisation is founded based upon the core values of developing vendor neutral storage technologies and open standards that enhance the overall usability of storage in general. 

In addition the SNIA organises events such as Storage Networking World, Storage Developers Conference, summits and it also provides a lot of vendor neutral education with it’s own certification path.There are world-wide chapters who each organise their local gigs and can provide help and support on general storage related issues.

The question is though, to what extend is SNIA able to steer the storage industry to a point on the horizon that is both beneficial to customers as to the vendors. The biggest issue is that the entire SNIA organisation lives by the grace of it’s members, which are primarily vendors. Although you, as a customer or system integrator or anyone else interested, can become a member and make proposals, you have to bring a fairly large bag of coins to become a voting member and have the ability to somewhat influence the pathways of the storage evolution.

The SNIA does not directly steer development of technologies which are under the umbrella of the INCITS, IEEE, IETF and ISO standards bodies. Although many vendors are part of both organisations you will find that the well established standards such as FibreChannel, SCSI, Ethernet, TCPIP are developed in these respective bodies.

So should you care about SNIA?

YES !!!!. You certainly need to. The SNIA is a not-for-profit organisation which provides a very good overview of where storage technology is at every stage. It started of in 1997 shortly after storage went from DAS to SAN. Over the years it has provided the industry with numerous exciting technologies which enhanced storage networking in general. Some examples are SMI-S, CDMI, CSI, XAM etc. Some of these technologies evolved into products used by vendors and others have either ceased to exist due to lack of vendor support or customer demand.

If you’re fairly new in the storage business the SNIA is an excellent start to get acquainted with storage concepts, protocols and general storage technologies without any bias to vendors. This allows to remain clear minded of options and provides the ability to start of your career in this exciting, fast pace business. I would advise to have a look at the course and certification track and recommend to get certified. It gives you a good start with some credibility and at least you know what the pundits in the industry talk about when they mention distributed filesystems, FC, block vs file etc etc.

I briefly mentioned the events they organise. If you want to know who’s who in the storage zoo a great place to visit is SNW (Storage Networking World), an event organised twice a year in the US on both the east and west coast. All major vendors are around (at least they should in my view) and it gives you a great opportunity to check out what they have on their product list.
The next great event is SDC (Storage Developers Conference) which quite easily outsmarts most other geek events. This event is where everyone comes together who knows storage to the binary level. This is the event where individual file-system blocks are unravelled, HBA API’s are discussed and all the new and exciting cloud technologies are debunked. So if you’re into some real technical deep-dives this is the event to visit.

Although questions have been raised whether SNIA is relevant at all I think it is and it should be supported by anyone with an interest in storage technologies.

I’m curious about your thoughts.



Yeah its been a while. A lot has happened in two years. One thing that really jumps out is I moved Down Under. Yep, now inhabitant of kangarooland and I’ve loved every day of it.

To storage:
You don’t want to know how many questions I get who’s answers have been perfectly described in all sorts of manuals. This almost leads to the point were my job becomes a manual reader and a walking storage encyclopedia. 🙂 Now that’s something to put on my CV.

The big problem is however with so many different (storage) products and related documentation I can understand the problem storage admins have these days. Storage infrastructures become more and more complex and an ever increasing level of knowledge is required to maintain all of this. Take into account all different updates these guys get from their vendors almost on a monthly basis then you can imagine what their workday looks like. My life is pretty easy. I only have to keep track of around 80 software products and approx 15 storage hardware platforms because I work for one of those vendors. Multiply that by an average of around 17 manuals per product between 10 and over 5000 (yes, five-thousand) pages and …… you do the maths. Take into account that I also need to know what happens on a OS level from an IO stack perspective including all the different virtualisation kit that is out there including Mainframe z/OS so this pretty much sums up my daily life.. 😉

No, I’m not pitying myself. I have a fantastic wife, wonderful kids and good job, so I’m quite happy with what’s going on in my life.

Going back to the storage admins. The big difference between them and myself is I have access to all the information I need plus some competitive information of my com-colleagues. The storage admins totally rely of what the vendors want them to have and that very often is extremely restricted. I can understand that a lot of this is market sensitive and belongs as company confidential behind locks, however I also think that we should give the right information/documentation (in any form you like) in a structured and easy to understand format without the nitty/gritty stuff that is totally irrelevant. This will easy the burden which a lot of you guys out there suffer and believe me I’ve been there.

A second way of sharing experiences and knowledge is user communities. The perfect example for me has always been Encompass or DECUS. The best user community ever, affiliated to Digital Equipment Corporation. (HP still picks the fruit from that). I think it’s extremely important that vendor should provide a platform were their users can share expierences (good or bad) and be able to leverage the knowledge of his/her peers.

One of my primary tasks, besides being a technical conscience to my sales reps, is to provide my customers (you storage admins) with all the information they need and to help them manage the kit I sold them so they can be heroes within their company.

TTY later.