By Tom Clark

If you are a CIO or VP of IT working for a storage networking vendor, or are just interested in tracking storage solutions and issues, you’re on one organization’s most wanted list. A new organization, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), is actively recruiting and inviting tech leaders to join its ranks.

I’ll examine the SNIA’s mission and what benefits it holds for tech leaders and vendors alike.

The SNIA’s mission
As the umbrella organization of storage networking vendors and technologists, the SNIA is chartered to promote the adoption of shared storage solutions in the marketplace. The SNIA’s mission is to advance the storage industry by satisfying the real needs of the users through the establishment of a dialogue between storage vendors and consumers.

The SNIA’s mission includes both technical and marketing functions, as illustrated by the group’s organizational structure. The Technical Council and Technical Work Groups, for example, are focused on developing the architectural framework of storage networking, as well as standards requirements for key functionality that will enhance shared storage implementations.

This technical activity is complemented by the work of SNIA committees. The education, marketing, conference, interoperability, and other committees concentrate on outbound messaging for storage networking issues. The most visible of these outbound activities are the spring and fall Storage Networking World (SNW) conferences.

Soliciting end-user engagement
To ensure that the SNIA’s technical and marketing efforts both align with the strategic needs of the IT community, the SNIA has created several vehicles for soliciting input and participation by end users, including corporate and individual memberships, customer surveys, interactive discussions, and the SNIA Consumer Executive Council, which I’ll discuss in more detail below.

Membership dues vary according to company size. A Voting Membership for a company with annual revenues in excess of $500 million is $35,000 per year; for companies with annual revenues below $500 million, dues are $12,500 per year. Emerging Company memberships are $7,000, and individual memberships are $300 per year. Complete membership signup information is available on the SNIA site.

In addition, SNIA member companies may channel end-user requirements and issues into the SNIA, based on input provided by their own customers. Collectively, these avenues to IT end users help maintain the flow of communications between vendors and IT consumers and help keep the industry as a whole aligned with the needs of the market.

The executive council role
The SNIA created the Consumer Executive Council as a more formal vehicle for storage customer input. Council participation does not require SNIA membership but assumes a vested interest in storage networking issues at a strategic level.

CIOs, senior IT executives, and leading corporate technologists who are responsible for enterprise storage strategies within their companies are encouraged to participate in the SNIA Consumer Executive Council discussions via e-mail threads and conference calls and periodic face-to-face meetings at convenient venues such as SNW conferences or SNIA end-user events, such as conferences and seminars.

The perspectives such individuals bring to the industry highlight both the gains and shortcomings of the vendor community and drive broader goals for shared storage technology.

For the participants, the Council offers a vendor-neutral forum for influencing the direction of the storage industry as a whole. Previously, for example, customer input has highlighted management and interoperability as priority goals, which the SNIA is now addressing with both technical and outbound initiatives.

For more information
Visit the SNIA Web site for more detailed information on the group’s activities. For more information on the Consumer Executive Council, please contact CEC liaisons Lynne Van Arsdale ( or Tom Clark (

Tom Clark is Director of Technical Marketing for Nishan Systems, a San Jose, CA, vendor of Storage over IP™ storage networking solutions, and an SNIA board member. Clark is a noted fibre channel expert and also serves as cochair of the SNIA Interoperability Committee.