Industry Rivals to Shepherd Utility Computing Schema

HP, IBM, and EMC are among the rivals who will work together on a standard way to make diverse infrastructure in utility computing environments work together.
Posted February 17, 2004

Clint Boulton

As first reported by, several major technology companies have united under the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) to create a standard for making infrastructure from various vendors interoperate in utility computing environments.

The work of the group shares common characteristics with a consortium led by EDS, Opsware and Computer Associates, which is working on the Data Center Markup Language (DCML), but DMTF officials promise the work will not compete with DCML, which recently expanded to include 54 member companies.

Instead, DMTF President Winston Bumpus said Cisco Systems, EMC, HP, IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and VERITAS plans to work with the DCML group to improve the interoperability of present day data center environments.

After all, both groups share the belief that improving multi-vendor integration will reduce IT management costs, which cost-budget-strapped customers are looking to do.

"We have been actively discussing this with them," Bumpus told "I've been in contact with the board members of EDS, Opsware and Computer Associates."

For now though, Bumpus said members of the Utility Computing Working Group will work to create common object models for utility computing services under the auspices of the DMTF's Common Information Model (CIM) for the management of disparate hardware, software and services.

Utility computing, or on-demand computing, in which companies can pay for computing resources as they need it with regard to ebbs and flows in business demand, has become one of the hottest trends in the industry for companies looking to cut costs by automating the infrastructure in their data centers.

But one of the pitfalls associated with this grand undertaking is the number of disparate products from competing vendors in the data center. While IT administrators have worked around running say, IBM software on servers from Sun with adapters and plug-ins, new interoperability tactics are required for utility computing models.

Rivals HP, IBM, Sun Microsystems and VERITAS are all spearheading their own utility computing models, with different approaches and architectures. But the fact that they are working together to crack the interoperability issue demonstrates the importance for assuaging customers' concerns.

Bumpus said Cisco, Oracle and EMC chose to participate for their close ties to DMTF.

As for overlap with the DCML, Bumpus acknowledged he is only familiar with that endeavor at a high level. But he is not concerned with any industry fragmentation, which is the threat associated with so-called competing standards.

Jack Kudale, director brand strategy at Computer Associates, agreed that the DCML and Utility Computing Working Group can co-exist and be complementary to each other.

Kudale told that although both groups are in fairly nascent stages -- DCML was born last October -- he didn't think overlap would be an issue and sees the new group as complementary to the DCML.

"I think their approach is a little different, and the problems they are trying to address are a little different," Kudale said. DCML has 4 different working groups focused on complexity and provisioning, but at the end of the day both efforts are designed to give customers a more efficient way of managing their infrastructure. This is just the beginning. I'm sure they will have a set standards that will encompass both DCML's and Utility Computing Working Group's work."

Bumpus agreed. "Both are so new, I'm not sure how they will align at this point," Bumpus said. "But hopefully the best ideas will come forward and customers will support them."

Bumpus said the Utility Computing Working Group is working with the Global Grid Forum (GGF) to see how its Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA) for grid computing can be put to use and OASIS' Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) group to create standard interfaces that align with the rest of the industry.

IBM's Ellen Stokes and VERITAS' Roger Reich are serving as interim co-chairs for the group.

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