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IBM, Veritas Lead New Utility Computing Standard

A new standards body has been formed to create a method for ensuring the interoperability of utility computing environments using products from different companies, internetnews.com has learned.

According to a Distributed Management Task Force document obtained by internetnews.com, the new Utility Computing Working Group is co-chaired by one representative from IBM and VERITAS Software and has a goal of unifying data center management, an integral part of on-demand computing.

The work, which will be carried out with the help of standards bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and OASIS, could be seen as IBM's and VERITAS' competitive answer to the Data Center Markup Language (DCML) launched by EDS, Computer Associates and others last year.

In a utility computing structure, an IT worker could have computing power fed to his company's data center with a few clicks of the mouse on a pay-as-you-use basis, akin to the way people purchase power from an electric company.

This latest wave in enterprise computing is being touted as a strategy by several top-tier high-tech vendors, including IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, Veritas and Computer Associates.

These companies have been embracing the need to deliver systems with a higher degree of management automation and pipe highly available applications to consumers.

But the companies all employ different processes and architectures to provide the services. Forming a working group in order to create a standard for rendering disparate data center environments could facilitate the adoption of utility computing. After all, the working groups' goal is to allow customers to tap into computing power from a single point of access, irrespective of the infrastructure.

"Consumers require that the multi-vendor components that comprise these solutions interoperate for the purpose of management," according to the DTMF document obtained by internetnews.com.

"To fulfill this customer requirement, the industry requires a minimum of highly functional, secure, extensible, and interoperable management interface transports based on a single consistent, correlated, and complete manageability model."

But the new group comes after more than 50 companies are already on board with DCML, a standard for allowing heterogeneous machines to talk to one another. DCML was forged last October in a bid to create a standard language that shuttles information exchange between disparate data center components.

At the time, analysts following the space noted that neither IBM nor HP, widely acknowledged as the two biggest on-demand computing players, were involved with DCML. Now, the latest interoperability group appears to be an answer to DCML, as well as another reminder that standards-creation often spurs rivals to line up on opposing sides in the process.

"It sure looks like IBM is pushing its agenda on autonomic computing," said a source familiar with the utility computing space and the standards process. "The big difference between this and DCML is that it has big guy sponsorship -- is this how IBM expects to drive forward the Web Services Notification and Resource Framework standards that it introduced in January at Global Grid Forum? If so then HP will also be on board with this."

The source said the alignment of the grid standards with the Web services standards is vital to IBM's view of autonomic computing and "it seems like the GGF can't do it on their own."

The DMTF, which created the Common Information Model (CIM) to describe how management programs will be able to control devices and applications from different vendors in the same way, did not respond to calls seeking comment as of press time.

The Utility Computing Working Group said in its document that it plans to collaborate with other standards organizations, which in addition to the W3C and OASIS, could include the Web Services Interoperability Consortium (WS-I) and the Global Grid Forum (GFC), in order to create interoperable profiles for utility computing services.

Draft profiles for utility computing infrastructure services are slated to appear in June 2004.