A Daunting Time for the DMTF

eLABorations: Reporter's notebook: Developer's Conference shows the task force must execute on its good ideas, and soon

I can sum up my trip to the recent Distributed Management Task Force developers conference as a call: Kill all management agents. And the task force just might do that, if it can get some of the lead out of its pants.

As I see it, the member organizations of the DMTF--always a pokey group to implement changes--have made significant gains over the past year, but should do more to stoke momentum for agent-killer CIM (Common Information Model) adoption. One announcement, made June 11 at the San Jose conference, is that the DMTF and the Network Application Consortium are forming a strategic alliance. This brings some of the biggest names of the infrastructure vendor world in touch with a group of the largest consumers of IT.

It makes sense to bring vendors and consumers together in established groups with the goal of making management of infrastructure as seamless as possible. By removing proprietary control schemes and replacing them with standards-based methods of exposing configuration and management information, equipment and application vendors can compete on utility instead of management. Thats a good thing, because these vendors are rarely good at integrated cross-platform management, often leaving the entire mess to IT managers, who have grown to accept the daily pain of maintaining systems, applications and networks as a de facto part of the job.

But the "pokey" factor clearly still reigns, as the DMTF conference keynote and executive reports revealed. The CIM (Common Information Module) compliance test was released at the conference, but that was it. White papers from the various working groups remain unwritten because of budget and time constraints, and the WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) compliance test was delayed until later this year.

Even though this was the 10th annual DMTF forum, the interoperability tests--where participating vendors try their luck at achieving management nirvana--are still closed to the press. In large part, this is because the tool implementations developed by the organization still arent ready for prime time, according to DMTF officials.

The other factor that must give pause both to the DMTF and to IT managers wooed by the promises it makes, is that fewer than 100 people attended the opening conference. Every show Ive attended this year has been far smaller than those held in the heyday of the dot-com bubble, and its reasonable to say that more qualified people are making it through corporate travel restrictions. But a conference this small seems to be pushing the envelope of commitment on the small side.

In a positive light, the people in attendance were representatives of the right companies to make a move to standards work. But its clear that this is going to be a testing year for the good ideas that have been incubated by the DMTF. If it doesnt execute some major advances in CIM this year, it might be overtaken by proprietary solutions that, although not open, at least exist.

Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant can be contacted at cameron_sturdevant@ziffdavis.com.