The new SOMA (Service-Oriented Management Architecture) and follow-on uXcomm XManage Server Edition and XManage Information Appliance Edition products based on SOMA are aimed at reducing the time it takes manufacturers to develop deep-dive management applications for their products and at easing the integration headache for enterprises trying to link together disparate point tools.
"SOMA is a [Services Oriented Architecture] implementation for systems management. It bridges the gap between different [management] applications by encapsulating them in XML and allowing them to communicate as one application," said Earl Hines, director of marketing and business development at uXcomm, in Beaverton, Ore.
At the heart of the SOMA architecture is an MSB (Management Service Bus) that provides device makers and software developers with a common communications mechanism.
The MSB converts all applications and deploys them as run-time services based on XML. Developers can use the XML-based services to create a full set of management applications or agents that have a request-response interface that allows the MSB to translate and execute management actions between any two transactions.
"Instead of building a monolithic application, every feature is defined as a service such as start a device or change a configuration. All those services have a predefined message-based request and response. With this anyone can build a management feature and build it on the bus, so anyone can plug into it," Hines said.
Silos that focus on the management of specific elements in the data center are the rule in most IT shops today. But, "if you want to automate the data center, the problem is left to IT to figure out how to integrate" those silos, Hines said. "We take advantage of the fragmented [data center management] market and help integrate via SOA, so you can keep up with [technological] innovation and still be able to automate," he said. Existing proprietary management frameworks from enterprise management providers such as IBM Tivoli or Hewlett-Packards OpenView are slow to adapt to changes in the data center.
Early users working with the uXcomm XManage Server Edition at Penguin Computing believe theyve found a management framework for quickly creating management applications that span both its blade and rack-mounted servers, according to Robert Monkman, director of software product management and business development for Penguin, in San Francisco.
"We wanted a framework for building a management solution designed to be extensible by us and by our customers. That was hard to find. When we saw what uXcomm had, it was precisely what we were looking for. It was built on standards and supported the latest management protocols we knew were being adopted," he said.
Although Penguin Computing considered using open-source management tools as a base, XManage took it 75 to 80 percent of the way, versus 40 percent of the way there, Monkman said.
For Penguin Computing customers, the resulting product will "give them a lot of flexibility to integrate it into their management ecosystem as they see fit," he said. "A lot of times enterprises like the functionality, but not the GUI youve developed. Theyll have the ability to completely customize the whole look and feel," he said.
The modularity of the SOMA architecture and the XManage products allow them to be deployed in two ways: as a universal console for aggregated management, control and provisioning for thousands of systems, or as agents deployed on devices.
The SOMA architecture is unique in its emphasis on "consistency and efficiency in gathering information about the infrastructure," said Dennis Drogseth, vice president at analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates.
"You have a consistent fabric for gathering data across your infrastructures as they evolve. This can create a kind of fabric for assimilating device information from the infrastructure thats more efficient, allows you to consolidate and has more consistency," Drogseth said.
SOMA and the uXcomm XManage Server Edition and XManage Information Appliance Edition products will be available on Jan. 17.