DMTF spec promises to make managing hardware easier

By Audrey Rasmussen

The management of servers has traditionally been very
proprietary and platform-specific. IT organizations have aligned
their administrative support teams by type of server because
each platform has its unique characteristics and tools. Most
hardware vendors have provided their own software to manage
their hardware. However, the need for platform-specific,
proprietary hardware management tools may soon diminish.

The Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) recently announced
its Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH)
Command Line Protocol (CLP). SMASH is the result of customer
requests for standardization of server management across
heterogeneous platforms. The SMASH CLP specification provides a
common set of command-line syntax that can be used on any server
that supports the SMASH CLP standard.

Users have to learn only one set of commands to manage servers,
no matter what the platform or the vendor. They can set up
standard CLP procedures that can be used repetitively to manage
servers in a consistent manner.

The SMASH CLP can be used for remote management of server
hardware, and for out-of-band or out-of-service servers. It
addresses the management of components like network interface
cards, disk drives, cooling systems, BIOS, and power systems. In
addition, it can be used with related systems like
keyboard-video-mouse switches.

The 200-page spec includes a lot of specificity. And the DMTF
believes it is a major step in the standardization of management
of hardware. According to the DMTF, there is strong and broad
industry support for the SMASH CLP from companies such as AMD,
Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Newisys, Avocent and Sun.

The SMASH CLP was built from the ground up through a
collaboration of vendors within the DMTF. It's still considered
a "preliminary" spec, with the DMTF releasing it to the public
for "comment and implementation experience before it is released
in its final form later this year." According to Winston Bumpus,
president of the DMTF, this spec was released in record time for
a standard, in about a year. He also reports that many vendors
are planning to ship products that include SMASH within the next
six months to a year.

The CLP specification is the first of a series of SMASH
specifications the DMTF plans to deliver. Some of the others
being worked on are SMASH Managed Element Addressing, SMASH
CLP-to-CIM Mapping, SMASH CLP Discovery, and SMASH Profiles. The
DMTF is also working on a SMASH Architecture White Paper.

For more information on SMASH or to download the SMASH CLP
specification, go to the DMTF Web site at:

SMASH is something that has been needed to simplify and make the
management of servers more efficient. The DMTF and the
participating vendors should be applauded for their
collaborative efforts in developing this and the other SMASH
standards that are being worked on. The system administrator
will be the one who benefits from this industry initiative.


Archive of the Network/Systems Management newsletter:

Management Research Center:

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2005

Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to abeckman@outdoorssite.com.

Copyright 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008