Microsoft spells out modelling standard

Building on its work with its System Definition Model, Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday a joint-vendor initiative that resulted in the publication of a new specification that will make it easier for businesses to manage their IT systems.

Called Service Modeling Language (SML), the spec provides users with a standard model for defining networks, applications, servers and other IT-related infrastructure in their data centres, regardless of vendor platform. Participating vendors include BEA Systems Inc., BMC Software Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Inc., EMC Corp., HP, IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

Ed Anderson, market director for Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative said Microsoft and the other vendors noticed that systems management complexity was one of the key problem areas for their customers. Anderson said up until last November, when Microsoft held a design review for its SDM specification that included many of the above vendors as well as customers, the vendor community was largely working on their own initiatives to try to address that complexity.

“We’ve come together as a working group to standardize the way we build that fundamental foundation for capturing management information at the core,” said Anderson. “The service modeling language is the way we’re going to do that.”

Microsoft has not settled on a standard for the model yet, but Anderson said it is looking at DMTF, W3C and OASIS as possibilities.

Ric Telford, vice-president of autonomic computing at IBM, said all of its customers have solutions and products from multiple vendors.

“There’s no such thing anymore as a homogeneous data centre,” said Telford. “Everybody has a Microsoft operating system or Microsoft servers or IBM servers or Sun servers and they all have to work together. The problem is you want all of your products to be able to talk to one another when you’re doing management.”

With SML, for example, models created by IBM can be consumed by Microsoft products and vice-versa, said Anderson.

“If you’ve got an IT service that has a requirement of a DB2 database, a Microsoft operating system, a Cisco router and a BEA Web service, all that information is going to be expressed using a common modeling format so management solutions from any of the vendors can treat that as an IT service rather than a collection of separate IT components,” he said.

Telford said IBM will also be focusing on providing its customers with development tools to create models and use them when they’re defining their IT services. IBM will be integrating the SML model into its Rational software as well as its Tivoli management product.

Likewise, Microsoft’s Visual Studio will support SML as a design language. Further, Vista will have all its configuration information expressed in these XML models and MS System Center knows how to consume those models for deployment, operation and incident management-type functions.

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