Four vendors in the emerging market for enterprise-wide configuration management databases joined together to launch an effort to create a common specification for sharing configuration information across a federation of data sources.
The four—BMC Software, IBM/Tivoli, Hewlett Packard and Fujitsu—announced April 11 their effort to create the specification and submit it to an appropriate standards body for eventual standardization.
The goal of the effort is to take information stored in different places and in different formats about the IT infrastructure and how it is used and make it easily accessible by a federation of CMDBs.
"Everybody needs to have an up-to-date view of the information about their IT resources, and the fact of the matter is that information is scattered today amongst the different repositories of different vendors," said Ric Telford, vice president of autonomic computing at IBM in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The stimulus for the effort came from early customers who have begun CMDB projects as part of a larger effort to adopt IT management methodologies described in the IT Infrastructure Library, according to Tom Bishop, CTO at BMC Software in Houston, Texas.
"Its such a universal problem. This was motivated by a lot of the feedback weve been given [from customers whove started implementing CMDBs]," he said.
Without a standard way to share data among different vendors CMDBs and other tools, relevant infrastructure information has to be manually gathered. That process is labor-intensive and costly.
"We dont have the ability to tie these elements together easily," said Dennis Deane, head of program management for global infrastructure at DHL in Prague. DHL is working on a CMDB project that involves some 30 to 40 people.
The group intends to keep the initial specification as simple as possible. It will focus first on the problem of federation in order to share configuration items easily between heterogeneous repositories. "We didnt want to boil the ocean," said Bishop.
It will draw on existing standards where applicable, such as the Distributed Management Task Forces Common Information Model.
"If youre talking about IT resources, you dont want to reinvent descriptions of it that already exist. CIM does a good job of that," said Telford.
The effort may also draw on specifications such as OASIS Web Services Distributed Management as well as Microsofts Web Services Management specification.
Although enterprise management provider CA and Microsoft are noticeably missing from the list of founding members, Bishop and Telford both expressed their desire to see those vendors join in the effort.
"I think CA and Microsoft need to be involved, and wed like to see them involved. This is not where we should be competing. Our clear intent is to invite a set of players that can make this a meaningful industry standard," said Bishop.
The group, which intends to expand to other management providers as well as systems integrators and large enterprise customers, intends to submit its initial specification to an as yet determined standards body. The likely candidates are OASIS, the DMTF and the Open Group, according to Telford.
The group hopes to have a specification ready to submit to one of those standards bodies by October or November, according to Bishop.
"Were working on a draft white paper that outlines the scope and nature of the problem this summer," he added.