DMTF Completes Server Management Standard

The full suite of specifications for the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware is intended to help enterprises lower operational costs.

The Distributed Management Task Force on Dec. 4 completed its work on developing a framework for managing heterogeneous servers in a data center.

The full suite of specifications for the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware, released on Dec. 4, is intended to help enterprises lower operational costs by providing an intuitive and uniform way to manage multiple vendors servers.

"More and more [IT] environments have lots of different types of systems and network devices. One of the big pains in enterprises is integrating the management of all these different types of systems and networks. SMASH 1.0 helps to provide a really useful framework for interoperability, so that multiple vendors can work together to manage an environment," said Andi Mann, industry analyst with Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

Although portions of the specification suite had already been available, the DMTF put the finishing touches on the suite by releasing two key components.

The new SMASH Implementation Requirements Specification defines for management vendors how to use the SMASH specifications to create comprehensive server management.

At the same time, the new SMASH Server Management CLP-to-CIM Mapping Specification describes common requirements for mapping standard SM Command Line Protocol commands to elements of the DMTFs Common Information Model.

The SM CLP and the SM Managed Element Addressing specifications, which complete the SMASH suite, have been available for at least a year.

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read more about SMASH, click here.

Industry backing for the SMASH suite is "strong," according to DMTF President Winston Bumpus in Austin, Texas.

"Broadcom, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM Symantec, WBEM Solutions, AMD, Raritan, Avocent — theyve all been actively engaged and implementing this in their products," he said. "A lot of companies are already implementing products with SMASH in them and we continue to see more standard compliant pieces of this," he added.

These vendors have recognized that their customers have a mix of servers in their data centers.

"It is fairly significant that all these organizations have come together and agreed on standards that will really help customers. Instead of putting competition first, theyve put their customers first," said EMAs Mann.

Bumpus sees SMASH adoption evolving over time. The DMTF in 2007 intends to make interoperability tools and specifications available, and later in 2007 it will put a SMASH certification process in place for vendor implementations.

SMASH is a unique management standard because it is a technology IT administrators can work with directly, rather than being a piece of plumbing in the wall, Bumpus said.

"SMASH is something the customer can see directly. Because they can invoke the SMASH Command Line Protocol, the can go through a SSH or Telnet session, connect to a server, power it up or down, look at the thermals. It is something IT people can see directly," he added.

Beyond its work with the SMASH standard, the DMTF made progress on other fronts on Dec. 4 when it released two other updated specifications.

The new WS-CIM specification provides mapping to Common Information Model data that can be automatically translated to Web services formats. The specification "describes how to encode CIM information in a state of the art XML schema," said Bumpus.

The DMTF also upgraded its System Management BIOS Specification, which addresses how system vendors and motherboard providers present management information about their offerings in a standard format by extending the BIOS interface on x86 systems.

Version 2.5 of the specification adds support for multi-core, multi-thread and 64-bit extension processor characteristics as well as updated system slot descriptions.

"SMBIOS is a hidden gem. Most servers, desktops and notebook systems are instrumented with this. Asset data like serial numbers, what kind of batteries a system has, what adapters it has, what hardware is installed, is encoded in SMBIOS. Its a cornerstone piece of technology people dont talk about but its in every machine," said Bumpus.

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