RealTime IT News

Web-Based IT Management Spec Gets Official Nod

Two years after first launching its Web Services for Management standard, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) has ratified it as final.

The DMTF, with more than 4,000 participants from 44 countries and nearly 200 organizations, leads the development, adoption and promotion of interoperable management standards and initiatives. Board members include representatives from IBM, Intel, AMD, Novell, Microsoft, HP, Broadcom and EMC.

Its new standard, known colloquially as WS-Management or WS-MAN, uses Web services to remotely manage IT systems -- a typically done today by specifications like the venerable Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

WS-MAN provides a common way for systems to access and exchange management information across the IT infrastructure and promoting interoperability between management applications and the resources they manage. Supporters also have long claimed it's more flexible than SNMP, though far less entrenched.

The spec can address a multitude of devices across networks, ranging from silicon components and handheld devices to PCs, servers and large-scale datacenters.

The standard, based on SOAP , works by identifying a core set of Web service specs and usage requirements to expose a common set of operations central to systems management.

"As people have larger and larger datacenters with more equipment and technologies, you need a common protocol based on open protocols," said Winston Bumpus, president of the DMTF.

"All platforms can speak Web services protocols, and to have this also embedded in hardware -- in Network Interface Controllers to manage desktops and mobile devices, and into servers to access remote controllers -- will let you manage all the devices, whether you're going through the operating system or talking directly to the hardware," he said.

For instance, the service can help management systems discover or modify resources such as settings and dynamic values. It also can enumerate the contents of containers and collections such as large tables and logs, subscribe to events and execute specific management methods with input and output parameters.

In datacenters, for example, "because vendors' hardware has been instrumented for power management, control and monitoring, people can use it to power servers and desktops off and then power them back up again at night to the full state, update them and then power them down again," Bumpus told InternetNews.

Because it uses Web services and information models to facilitate interaction with various hardware platforms, operating systems and middleware in heterogeneous enterprise environments, WS-MAN "will be a useful tool in CA's larger strategy to help customers achieve their efficiency and service-level goals," said Chris Craddock, a distinguished engineer at CA (NASDAQ: CA), where he also serves as chief architect in the company's office of the CTO.

Years in the making

A number of DMTF members already have implemented WS-Management since its unveiling in April 2006.

While products incorporating the standard have been on the market for some time, the DMTF preferred to hold off on ratifying it immediately, officials said.

"We let the specs mature and let people implement them in products, because you have to get experience with real-world implementation," Bumpus said.

WS-MAN also comes as the latest component of DMTF's Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) push -- aimed at designing and promoting a set of management and Internet-standard technologies to simplify and unify the management of distributed computing environments.

As a result, it's also closely tied into other DMTF efforts, as the protocol of choice for group's Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware (DASH) and Systems Management Architecture for System Hardware (SMASH) initiatives.

"I believe that, in the industry, many of our future standards and implementations will be based on WS-MAN," said Valerie Kane, division marketing manager in AMD's (NASDAQ: AMD) client platform planning division.

Kane added that AMD also issued some open source tools to help independent software vendors implement WS-MAN solutions.