The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) has received and reviewed a proposed new specification for an application/storage interface from a consortium of leading storage industry providers.
The proposed standard, titled eXtensible Access Method or X-Access Method (XAM), is intended to provide an interface for the longevity and mobility of reference information that is independent from any specific storage system technology, vendor solution, or the location of a storage system or data. Reference information data that changes infrequently once written is commonly recognized to be growing at an exponential rate each year.
The X-Access Method initiative began in October 2004 as a collaborative project between the IBM and EMC Corporations. They were eventually joined in this consortium by HP, Hitachi Data Systems and Sun Microsystems. In September 2005 the XAM consortium formally presented the proposed standard to the SNIA. Once it was officially received by SNIA, it was passed to the FCAS-TWG for review of the XAM contribution. The FCAS-TWG is the technical working group charted by SNIA to develop standards around fixed-content aware storage including the XAM-Interface. After its initial review, the FCAS-TWG unanimously voted to use the XAM contribution as a basis for the development of a Fixed Content API to help with the long term archiving of data which is a key component in Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). The FCAS-TWG sees the possible implementations of the XAM consortium contribution to be several types of interfaces between applications and storage systems that coordinate metadata to achieve interoperability, storage transparency, and automation for ILM-based practices, long term records retention, and information assurance (security).
There are a number of benefits to customers that have been identified by the FCAS-TWG in conjunction with SNIAs Data Management Forum (DMF) about the potential of what is tentatively called the XAM-Interface (XAM-I). XAM-I is an application-level interface coordinating information metadata between various applications and fixed content aware storage systems between applications and storage systems.
This interface will simplify the work that ISVs will need to do to build and deliver solutions and applications requiring information to be archived for various reasons. It will also make it easier for end-users to store, archive and automate their storage migration which is a critical problem for electronic archives which require storage media migrations every 3-5 years as a compliance or best-practices requirement.