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Consortium Launches IT Service Modeling Spec

A group of industry leaders this week announced a new draft specification aimed at simplifying IT administration across heterogeneous networked environments.

Dubbed Service Modeling Language (SML), the new specification is an XML dialect created by a group of industry heavyweights -- BEA Systems, BMC Software, Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

The spec is meant to define a consistent way to express how computer networks, applications, servers and other IT resources are described -- or modeled -- in XML, so that businesses can more easily manage the services that are built on those resources, according to a statement from the group.

"SML addresses a growing industry need as a result of the numerous methods of representing the same IT resource," Microsoft said in a statement. "It allows developers to build modeling information for applications, devices and services that can be used during all stages of the application or service life cycle, such as configuration, problem, change and release management."

Once SML is in place, it will enable IT staffers to build a complete picture of their IT environments out of a series of reusable building blocks rather than requiring a fully customized description of every service, thus reducing cost and complexity.

The draft defines a common XML-based language for expressing information about IT resources and services. "It enables a hierarchy of IT resource models to be created from reusable building blocks rather than requiring custom descriptions of every service, thus reducing costs and system complexity for customers," the statement said.

Additionally, in the introduction to the spec itself, the authors say SML is designed to be used to "model complex IT services and systems, including their structure, constraints, policies and best practices. SML is based on a profile of XML Schema and Schematron."

As of yet, the spec is in early draft form and is being distributed for feedback.

For Microsoft, SML is part of its ongoing Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI). The term refers to Microsoft's "vision of delivering self-managing dynamic systems that will help enable customers to achieve higher business value through automation, flexible resource utilization and knowledge-based processes," according to company statements.

DSI was introduced three years ago. The overall concept also heavily involves Microsoft's plays in the server and PC virtualization arenas.

The SML group plans to submit the draft specification to an industry standards organization later this year. The companies also announced that they will work towards developing a library of core models to describe generic resources such as network elements, operating systems, storage devices, desktops, server systems, Web servers and a directory service.

The draft SML specification is available here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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