Vendors, DMTF Tackle Server Management

Top systems vendors are teaming with Intel to create a specification that enables enterprises to more easily manage heterogeneous server environments.

Top systems vendors are teaming with Intel Corp. to create a specification that enables enterprises to more easily manage heterogeneous server environments.

Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Intel head the DMTF Server Management Working Group, under the auspices of the Distributed Management Task Force, in Portland, Ore. The group will involve other DMTF members, including Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

The group, which met for the first time last week, will work to evolve the DMTFs CIM (Common Information Model) specification to enable platform-independent server management, said Tom Bradicich, chief technology officer for IBMs Intel-based eServer xSeries systems. The standard will take into account new forms of systems, including rack-mount, blade and virtualized servers.

"There is no uniform way of managing heterogeneous servers, and heterogeneity is the [direction] of data centers of the future," Bradicich said.

Currently, software suites such as Dells OpenManage, HPs OpenView and IBMs Tivoli offerings can manage the high-level aspects of a server infrastructure, such as determining how many servers are applied to certain tasks and how those servers are provisioned, Bradicich said.

What the new specification—a common command-line interface for local and remote management—will aim to do is handle such jobs as determining the order of rebooting and updating the firmware, Bradicich said. The new interface will be mapped to CIM and driven by scripts, he said.

Having such a specification will be a boon to larger enterprises with a variety of systems in their data centers, said Tom Clark, MIS director for Rapsheets Criminal Records Inc., in Memphis. Although his company runs primarily IBMs xSeries servers, "just being able to provide management capabilities that transcend architectural boundaries will be helpful," Clark said.

Officials with Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, said customers have been pushing for greater flexibility in managing their environments. They want to be able to manage their disparate systems via a single software suite, the officials said. That is why Dell has been increasingly vocal in the industry and within standards bodies about the need for greater standardization in management software, they said.

Bradicich said the group aims to release the first specification by July 1, and he expects hardware vendors and software makers to begin rolling out products supporting the new specification by the end of next year. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will initially provide support for the specification in its xSeries systems and will expand that support in its other server lines, he said.