Systems management standards move ahead

The Desktop Management Task Force, a group which includes IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp., has issued the Desktop Management Interface.

DMI promises to make "agent" technology—remote processes that capture performance information and can receive orders to take corrective actions—more useful, according to Gerald Young, SystemView consultant with IBM's Networking Software Division.

Specifically, DMI suggests a common way for agents to collect information and report it back to various systems management tools. Different agents will thus be able to talk to different systems and network managers.

The Simple Network Management Protocol is another area in which systems management standards activities are under way. SNMP uses different agency technology, traditionally providing server and network configuration information to open management platforms. SNMP agents, like DMI agents, are undergoing standardization.

If the standards work is accepted by industry, it would become possible for network managers to manage other vendors' systems, according to Hill Carter, a senior consultant with Digital Equipment Corp.

Other SNMP work would allow SNMP agents to collect more systems-type information, such as application configuration, version and some performance data, according to Wayne Morris, product marketing manager with BMC Software Inc.

The obvious next step is to get DMI and SNMP agents to play together, Morris said. BMC plans to add DMI support to its current SNMP product and also to make the information gathered from both available in SNMP format to open management platforms. That product addition could be available by mid year, he said.

"We're still Band-Aiding, writing customized code," to integrate the tools, said Linda Berdine, an automated operations consultant in Haymarket, Va.

"Someday we'll have a unified, truly integrated suite," Berdine said.

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