IT management to get a boost from web services

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems will publish a specification to use web services for managing a broad range of IT systems...

Microsoft and Sun Microsystems will publish a specification to use web services for managing a broad range of IT systems including PCs and devices on a network. Intel, Dell and Advanced Micro Devices are also involved in the specification.

The proposed Web Services Management, or WS-Management, specification is intended to provide a common management mechanism.

It uses the existing web services architecture endorsed by Microsoft, referred to as WS-*, which features specifications such as Web Services Addressing, Web Services Security, Web Services Enumeration and Web Services Eventing.

WS-Management is intended to utilise web services for management of systems ranging from handheld devices to PCs, servers, and large-scale datacentres.

WS-Management had been known as “WMX” and was first demonstrated at the WinHEC 2004 conference in Seattle in May.

“Rather than defining a new way of doing things, it says, here’s guidance on how you can use this architecture to solve the problem of IT management,” said Pete McKiernan, lead product manager for the platform strategy group at Microsoft. Featured in the proposal is a messaging protocol comprised of the Microsoft-backed web services specifications.

WS-Management will be further developed during a “workshop” process and then submitted to a standards body for consideration as an industry specification, according to Microsoft officials.

The Distributed Management Task Force is the leading candidate to receive the submission.

Microsoft plans to support WS-Management in Windows Server 2003, Release 2, which is due in late-2005, as well as in the next version of Microsoft Operations Manager in 2006. Intel will support the technology in its processors at an as-yet-unspecified time.

The WS-Management focuses on use of web services for management itself, said said Ronald Schmelzer, senior analyst at ZapThink.

“Actually, this spec doesn't have much to do with managing web services themselves, but is rather more of a network operation-datacenter administration spec focused on managing devices using web services,” he said. 

“This spec allows you to use web services to manage laptops, blade servers, PDAs, TiVos,” Schmelzer said.

Although Sun has been critical of Microsoft in the past on web services, the two suppliers recently brushed aside old differences and have pledged deeper co-operation on areas such as standards such as WS-Addressing and WS-Eventing, said John Tollefsrud, director standards of N1 Grid Systems at Sun.

Sun plans to use WS-Management in products such as Sun Management Center and N1 Grid provisioning software, Tollefsrud said.

Discussions will be held with network management system vendors such as Computer Associates International and Hewlett-Packard to gauge their participation in WS-Management.

Microsoft expects IBM’s participation in the development of WS-Management, as IBM previously has worked with Microsoft on web services specifications. But the company has not participated thus far, Microsoft officials acknowledged.

WS-Management has a different focus than the industry’s longstanding SNMP specification because SNMP was more focused on networked devices such as switches and routers, according to Microsoft.

“What we’re trying to provide is a specification that connects any type of device,” said David Hamilton, director for the Windows and enterprise management group at Microsoft.

But Schmelzer said WS-Management could be thought of more as a replacement for SNMP.

Paul Krill writes for Infoworld

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