DMTF – Open Standards Based Management

Standards Based Management
Ever since computers were introduced decades ago the desire for management came with it.
The possibility of applying solutions to solve problems, implement new applications or technologies, apply configuration changes… all of which are tasks within the management cycle.

When performing management tasks you’ll want to investigate how to do this only once.
From this investigation you can create a solution on how to accomplish this task so you won’t have to investigate it again.
But it would be even better if this standard also applies to other management tasks, not just this instance.
Take the deployment of an application for example.
If this solution only applies to the deployment of a single application, you’ll have to create a new solution for every other application you’ll have to install. To me that sounds like a lot of work… right?
So when you create a solution that applies to all (or as least most) application deployments it becomes a standard.
Naturally there will be exceptions to this standard, but to most of them the standard you’ve created can be applied.

Open Standards
Now let’s go one step beyond standards. Most standards are company/vendor bound. So each company/vendor creates their own standards.
What are the odds of multiple companies/vendors creating the same standard? Not very good odds, to put it mildly.
When Open Standards or industry wide accepted standards are created and embraced, it becomes a whole different story.
Take the ‘xml’ standard/format for example. Because this is a standard which has been embraced throughout the IT industry, we can work with that.
No matter if you’re a web or C# developer, PowerShell scripter, or IT Admin… all can work with this format.

In the past all parts in this chain would need to know how the solutions it talks to work.
You could see this as a Dutch person required to learn German, the German to learn Dutch and French, the French to learn German and Spanish and the Spanish to learn French and Dutch.
In IT we solved this by using primarily a single language: English.
So why not do the same with technical solutions: Use one language? This way products would be able to exchange entire blocks of data with each other.
A practical analogy would be to compare this with multiple persons and a book. The people representing the products and the data by the book.
You think that English isn’t the ‘one-language-fits-all’ language in the world? Well, you’re totally right on that.
Like I said, in IT the primary language is English. But in medicine it’s Latin.
So for interchangeability there would is a need for multiple open standards, multiple languages in which to communicate.
But as in real life, the practical usage of those languages would be related to their goal… what are they best suited for?

(Open) Standards Based Management
Think about a device which stores her configuration in a format that
a monitoring tool understands and is picked up by
an orchestration tool which in turn talks to
a deployment solution to perform a task on the device.

One solution fits all
It’s not ‘one solution fits all ’ persé but more like ‘one solution fits many’. When thinking about that problem, think very abstract.
This is something that’s rather difficult for me since I’m not an abstract thinker, more a practical thinker.
This one solution for a problem must be generic so that it can apply to many different, yet similar, problems.

Distributed Management Task Force
This all is where Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) comes in… DMTF = Open Standards.
Looking at the name you may think something like ‘Oh no, not yet another task force!!??’.
So let’s take a look at what they’ve done so far:

  • Common Diagnostic Model (CDM)
  • Desktop and Mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH)
  • Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH)
  • Storage Management Initiative (SMI-S)
  • Virtualization Management (VMAN)
  • Cloud Management Initiative (CLOUD)
  • Common Information Model (CIM)
  • Configuration Management Database Federation (CMDBf)
  • Platform Management Components Intercommunication (PMCI)
  • System Management BIOS (SMBIOS)
  • Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM)
  • Web Services Management (WS-MAN)
  • Alert Standard Format (ASF)
  • Desktop Management Interface (DMI)

Now this is actually a very impressive list, don’t you think? In a few coming blog posts I’ll go deeper into a few of these standards/technologies so keep an eye on this blog…
To give you an idea, here is a diagram of the DMTF technologies as taken from their website:

As you can see, the foundation of DMTF’s technologies is CIM. Therefor I’ll be posting another article dedicated to that specific technology… so stay tuned!

No products, just models
As I am a practical thinker I thought that, for example, CIM was an actual application developed by programmers from DMTF. I was mistaken.
CIM, the Common Information Model, is nothing more then a model… a set of management information definitions. So just a list of definitions, not an application.

Importance and impact
I think that in the future DMTF’s importance and impact will grow. Their role in creating industry wide standards is huge and key to interchangability between systems.
Also a unified management experience will depend heavily on open standards, where DMTF comes into play.
I’m going to keep my eyes on this company because I think that what they come up with, will be adopted by vendors in a few years and by the entire industry just a few years later.
In short, I think that DMTF works on the future and he who sees the future, owns the present.

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