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New Standard Seeks To Allow Services To Talk To Each Other

IBM, Microsoft, HP, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Intel, Cisco, CA, EMC, BEA Systems, and BMC rally around Service Modeling Language.

A new standard that will allow services that have never shaken hands before to interoperate was submitted Thursday to the World Wide Web Consortium.

Service Modeling Language (SML) is almost guaranteed to be ratified as a new W3C standard because of the wide industry backing behind it. The proposed specification was drafted by IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Intel, Cisco Systems, CA, EMC, BEA Systems, and BMC.

Many of these contributors to the specification are likely to start incorporating SML into their systems and network management products before it's ratified as a standard, said Ed Anderson, director of the dynamic systems initiative at Microsoft.

"This is a critical step for us. SML will simplify the management of services generally," Anderson said in an interview. It's the first time such a broad industry coalition has gotten behind the same standard, he added. SML will supply a consistent way to describe networks, applications, servers and other computer resources in XML, the Extensible Markup Language already widely used for documents on the Web, said Wayne Adams, senior technologist with EMC, the storage and storage management vendor.

With XML-parsing already built into many networked systems, SML will fit into many existing infrastructures. An ability to describe system resources in XML will allow services to be built that will work with other SML-modeled services. SML will also help generate a hierarchy of IT resources from reuseable, SML-defined building blocks rather than requiring custom descriptions each time IT seeks to build a service.

A second specification was submitted to the W3C called SML Interchange Format, which sets the way different applications will exchange SML models.

IBM with its Tivoli systems management, HP with OpenView, CA with CA-Unicenter, and BMC with Patrol are among the top data center systems management vendors, along with Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager for its Windows platform.

"We need to be able to supply solutions in the Microsoft management stack. We see the value of extending Microsoft's systems to other management systems. ... We need to be able to supply solutions in the Microsoft management stack," said Anderson.

The industry consortium was formed in July to jointly draw up the specification submitted Thursday.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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