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Microsoft moves beyond SMI-S with NetApp

By Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer

ATLANTA — NetApp and Cisco have issued another reference architecture in partnership with a virtualization vendor. This time it’s Microsoft.

The NetApp Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track with Cisco data center architecture, announced Monday at TechEd North America, is a pre-tested reference architecture that includes Hyper-V, System Center, NetApp storage and Cisco’s Unified Computing System. A software bundle that includes the NetApp OnCommand”3.0 plug-in for Microsoft is also included.

To create that OnCommand plug-in, NetApp is using an Opalis-based workflow management system layered over several hundred custom PowerShell commandlets to communicate with System Center, rather than the Storage Management Initiative — Standard (SMI-S). Microsoft officials had said previously that SMI-S would be the basis for integration between storage partners and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012.

According to Ryan O’Hara, senior director in Microsoft’s management and security division, Microsoft will also collaborate directly with storage vendors such as NetApp to integrate with SCVMM 2012 through Opalis, management packs and PowerShell, in addition to the storage.

SMI-S is “one of the protocols by which we speak between Virtual Machine Manager and a broad array of storage vendors,” O’Hara said, calling the standard a “table-stakes protocol for communication.”

Microsoft officials had said that SCVMM 2012 would use SMI-S to connect with storage arrays because the development needed to integrate directly with vendor-specific APIs would be time consuming, given the different efforts required for each API.

SCVMM 2012 is now in beta and is expected to become available later this year. Some of the software’s features include support for automated, wizard-driven provisioning of server, network and storage hardware for virtual machine deployments.

Beta testers say they will be putting the storage integration through its paces before deploying SCVMM 2012 in production.

“So far [SCVMM 2012] works fine, but we want to test the SAN connection,” said Rob McShinsky, a senior systems engineer for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., who currently uses Hewlett-Packard’s EVA arrays.

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