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Vendor group publishes new Web services management spec

A group of technology vendors that includes AMD, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, last week published a new Web services specification designed to simplify network administration across a range of devices. Dubbed Web Services Management (WS-M), the spec describes how to use Web services as a remote management access protocol.

"By using Web services to manage IT systems, deployments that support WS-Management will enable IT managers to remotely access devices on their networks, regardless of whether the systems are just out of the box, powered down or otherwise unavailable," the companies say in a joint statement.

WS-M provides a common way for systems to access and exchange management information across entire IT systems. It supports a full spectrum of "usage scenarios," the group says, including the management of handheld devices, PCs, servers, large-scale data centers and a range of silicon components.

Microsoft plans to build support for WS-M into an update of its Windows Server, due late in 2006, and in a version of its Microsoft Operations Manager management software, also scheduled for release sometime next year, says the company.

"Web services are the preferred architecture for building the next generation of application protocols," says David Mendlen, director of Web services at Microsoft. "With this specification, management is now a core part of the Web services world and no longer an afterthought or something that takes place in the data center. This is an important step for IT managers who have been looking for management systems to fully take advantage of the inherent interoperability that Web services provide."

Intel says it will support the specification in its platform building blocks. The company had no specifics at press time. "WS-Management is a natural component of the Intel Cross-Platform Manageability Program," says Lorie Wigle, Intel marketing director. "CPMP is our program to implement consistent manageability interfaces, features and protocols across Intel-based platforms from servers to notebooks."

The group is presenting the specification to the Distributed Management Task Force (DTMF), an industry consortium that develops, supports and maintains standards for systems management. The DMTF Utility Computing Working Group reportedly operates in close collaboration with other, better known, standards groups like the Global Grid Forum and Oasis. The group's list of standards includes information models, communication/control protocols and core management services/utilities.

WS-M was originally known as WMX (Web services management extensions), and was first demonstrated at the WinHEC 2004 conference in Seattle. The spec could serve as a replacement for older standards, such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), according to the authoring companies.

Certain features of another specification, the Web Services Distributed Management spec, overlap with WS-M. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates are backing that spec, which is being submitted for ratification by Oasis. Both Sun and Dell are members of the WS-DM working group.

WS-M sponsors point to significant differences between the two. For example, WS-DM tracks the performance of Web services applications, while WS-M supports the management of devices using other Web services protocols under development, including WS-Eventing and WS-Notification. The authors of WS-M have expressed a desire to collaborate with companies working on the WS-DM protocol.

The vendors have published the new spec on their Web sites.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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