The ABCs Of WBEM And XML

BMC, Cisco, Compaq, Intel and Microsoft founded the WBEM Forum in 1996. Shortlythereafter, they were joined by HP, IBM and others. As you can imagine, getting a grouplike this to agree on standards was nearly impossible. In addition to creating thestandards, the group needed them to be widely accepted and used. To that end, about a yearago, the WBEM Forum transitioned to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). Itsmission is to unify various management initiatives and provide manageability standards andtechnologies.

REIGNING STANDARDS

One of the first standards under the WBEM umbrella was the Common Information Model orCIM. The DMTF defines CIM as a conceptual information model for describing management thatis not bound to a particular implementation. This should allow for the interchange ofmanagement information between systems and applications. The communications can be between"agent to manager" and "manager to manager."

So in a fully CIM-compliant world, it would be possible to build applications usingmanagement data from a variety of sources and different management systems, such as HPOpenView, Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS), Tivoli Management and Compaq InsightManager. The management data would be collected, stored and analyzed using a common format(CIM). This would then allow users to develop their own custom managers accessinginformation collected by an off-the-shelf polling solution written in CIM-compliantsystems. On the other hand, software companies, using CIM, could quickly develop managerand agent technology.

Are you with me so far?

SIMPLER DESCRIPTIONS

Another emerging technology that will leverage WBEM is the EXtensible Markup Language(XML). A subset of the Standardized Generalized Markup Language (SGML), XML is a markuplanguage used for representing structured data in a textual form. One of the main goals ofXML is to keep the descriptive power of SGML while removing its complexity. XML is similarto HTML, but whereas HTML is used to convey graphical information about a document, XML isused to represent structured data in a document. XML should give us the ability to accessCIM data easily over the Web.

WBEM is backed by more than 70 major vendors today. Watch for HP, IBM/Tivoli, Compaqand Microsoft to come out with new products this year. Microsoft will be including WBEM inWindows 2000 and in their latest versions of SMS. HP and Computer Associates are activelysupporting WBEM in their new management architectures. Unfortunately, most of theseinitial tools, though based on standards, will be pretty limited. Time is what theseproducts need. Time will evolve the products, mature and refine the standards and givedevelopers time to catch up with expectations.

Can WBEM help me today? No, but give it a few years.

-- Charles Hebert is President of Southernview Technologies, Inc.(Atlanta, Ga.).

RELEVANT WEB SITES

WBEM Information From HP
www.hp.com/toptools
www.hp.com/desktop/manage
www.hp.com/netserver/products/management

Microsoft's Contribution to WBEM
www.microsoft.com/management/WBEM

Microsoft's Contribution to XML
msdn.microsoft.com/xml

The Web-Based Enterprise Management Forum
www.wbem.net

The Distributed Management Task Force, Inc.
www.dmtf.org

The XML Sponsor's Group
www.xml.com