Wednesday, December 19, 2007

MDC presentations available

Anas asked me to make my Management Developers Conference presentations available, so here they are.

Web Service Management On Rails

In the first one, WS-Management On Rails, covers the beauty of accessing WS-Management and WS-CIM functionality through Ruby. The code follows the DMTF Technologies Diagram and consits of
  • rcim for the CIM Infrastructure layer
  • This implements the CIM metamodel of classes, properties and qualifiers.
  • mofgen to generate WS-CIM bindings
  • Mofgen is an extension to the Cimple MOF parser. It generates Openwsman client bindings for CIM classes from the class description contained within a MOF file.
  • rwscim for the CIM Schema class hierachy
  • This puts a wrapper around the bindings generated by mofgen, makes them available as a single Ruby module and ensures the correct class hierachy.
And here is a git repository containing a Rails application showing all this in action.

Web Service Management Application Enablement

Web Service Management Application Enablement is about using WS-Management as a transport layer for remote application access. Instead of implementing a separate daemon, protocol and data model, riding the WS-Management horse gives all of this almost for free. And its more secure. The dynamic plugin model provided on the Openwsman server side makes this particularly easy. The presentation shows how to plan and implement such a plugin and gives two examples. openwsman-yast for a simple, RPC-type approach and openwsman-hal which follows the WS-Management resource model.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Report from Management Developers Conference

About Management Developers Conference

Management Developers Conference (ManDevCon, MDC) is the annual conference of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).
The DMTF is the leading industry organization for interoperable management standards and initiatives. Mostly known for their Common Information Model (CIM) and the Web Services for Management (WS-Management) standards.
The full conference schedule can be viewed here.

I already had the opportunity to attend this conference last year. This year, I was accepted as a speaker with two presentations about WS-Management.

Conference overview

The conference has three blocks, one for learning ('university day'), one for demo and interop ('interop lab') and one for presentations.

It was interesting to see how the conference topics changed year over year. Last year, protocols and APIs were still under discussion. In 2006, the WS-Management and WSDM (OASIS Web Services Distributed Management) protocols were still competing. This year, working implementations of various standards dominated.
From a protocol perspective, WS-Management is the clear winner with virtually every systems vendor showing implementations. Microsofts adaption of WS-Management for all remote management on Windows (WS-Management comes build into Vista and is available as an add-on to Server 2003 and XP) was probably the driving force here. Openwsman, an open source implementation of WS-Management provided by Intel, is also picked up by lots of embedded vendors.

The interop lab revolved around implementations for CDM, DASH and SMASH.

CDM, the Common Diagnostic Model, is a CIM extension for diagnostic instrumentation. Its primary use is for vendor-agnostic remote health evaluation for hardware. Hewlett-Packard uses this extensively for their systems and requires each of their component suppliers for test routines available through CDM.
DASH (Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware) and SMASH (Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware) target management and monitoring of hardware components based on the WS-Management protocol.

Attended presentations

  • Opentestman

  • Opentestman is validation test suite for ws-man, ws-cim and dash-1.0. Its a (wild) mixture of bash scripts and java based utility tools. Tests are described in xml-based 'profile definition documents' (PDD), making the tests data-driven. It currently covers all mandatory and recommended features of the WS-Management and WS-CIM standards. More than 160 test cases exist for all 14 DASH 1.0 profiles. [DASH 1.1 was released early December]
    [Hallway discussions showed, that the current implementation of Opentestman is in urgent need of refactorization. So don't look too close at the code or it might hurt your eyes.]

  • ITSM and CIM

  • ITSM, Information Technology Service Management, can be described as managing the systems management. The presentation gave an overview on existing technologies and asked for participation to model this topic in CIM. Currently, several (policy/modeling) standards exist for this topic, e.g. Cobit (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology; mostly US, covering business and process mgmt), ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library; mostly Europe, covering service and process mgmt) and CIM (resource mgmt). IT process management has seen a big push recently. Lots of tools and companies appeared in the last couple of years offering services.
    With SML, a service modeling language exists. Other areas like availability management, performance/capacity management or event/incident/problem management do not have any established standard.

  • Using the CIM Statistical Model to Monitor Datapresentation

  • Brad Nicholes from Novell showed recent work to integrate existing open source solutions (using non-standard models and protocols) with CIM.
    Ganglia, a "scalable distributed monitoring system for high-performance computing systems such as clusters and Grids" uses rrdtool (round robin database tool) to view stastistical data with different granularity.
    One feature of Ganglia is to provide trending information (as opposed to simple alerting) to support capacity planning.
    Ganglia consists of a statitics gathering agent (gmond) running on every client. These agents are grouped in clusters, sharing all information within the cluster to ensure failover capabilities. The statistics aggregation agents (gmetad) run on specific managment servers, reporting to an apache web frontend.
    Brad has defined a CIM model and implemented CIM providers to access the data. Its basically rrdtool access, thereby drastically reducing the amount of data transported over CIM.

  • CIM Policy Language

  • This was a report from the DMTF policy working group defining CIM-SPL.
    SPL, the simplified policy language, defines more than 100 operators to express relations (examples given: os 'runsOn' host, os 'hasA' firewall) and actions (Update of CIM properties, execution of CIM methods).
    There exists a cli tool and an Eclipse plugin for developing and testing policies. The Apache Imperius project is about to release a sample implementation. Similar plans exist for the Pegasus CIMOM.

  • Nagios through CIM

  • This was another example of bringing open source, but non-standard implementations and CIM together.
    Nagios is a very popular monitoring and alerting framework. It comes with a rich set of data gathering plugins, available on
    Intel has developed an adapter layer to expose Nagios data through CIM. One can also mix a traditional CIM provider with a Nagios plugin, filling only particular properties from the plugin.
    The source code is not available publically (yet...).

  • Cimple and Brevity

  • Cimple and Brevity are code generator tools making it easier to develop CIM providers and tools. Cimple is a CIM provider generator. It takes a CIM class description (MOF file) as input and generates stubs for a CMPI provider. This way, a developer does not have to fight with the provider API but can concentrate on the instrumentation part. [The amount of code generated is still huge. For SLE11, Python providers are the better choice for most cases.]
    Brevity tries to ease writing client tools. For people developing in C or C++, Brevity is worth a look.
    [For modern scripting languages, better bindings exist. E.g powerCIM for Python and rwscim for Ruby.]

  • Management Frameworks

  • This talk was meant as a call for help to collaborate on a client framework standard. There are sufficient standards and implementations for getting instrumenting managed devices. But on the management application side, everyone reinvents the wheel.
    Mergers drive this on the side of traditional (closed source) vendors, else they end up with lots of different APIs.
    The proposed 'integrated framework and repository for end-to-end device view' consists of an 'agent tier' (instrumentation), a 'service tier' (see below) and an 'application tier' (API for management applications).
    Services can be divided into infrastructure (discovery, collectors (caching), notifications) and core services (data model, topology, policy, scheduling, security, framework service management, domain specific services).
    This is ongoing work sponsored by Sun Microsystems looking for further participation.

  • openwsman

  • Openwsman is an open source implementation of the WS-Management and WS-CIM protocol standards. Its currently at version 1.5.1 with 1.6.0 scheduled for end of year and 2.0 end of march '08.
    It consists of a generic library, a client library and a server library and daemon. The daemon can be used in parallel to existing CIMOM implementations, translating between WS-CIM and CIM/XML. The mod_wsman plugin for Apache provides co-existance of WS-Management and the Apache web server through the same port.
    Main features for next years 2.0 release are
    • full compliance to the specification (The current WS-Management specification is still not final)

    • WS-Eventing (asynchronous indications, for alerting etc.)

    • A binary interface to sfcb (to connect to cim providers without a cimom)

    • better support for embedded devices

    • Filtering (CQL, cimom query language; WQL, WS-Management query language, xpath, xml query language)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mapping the IT Universe

The annual Management Developers Conference organized by the DMTF started yesterday with the University Day.

DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force) is an industry organization leading the development, adoption and promotion of interoperable management standards and initiatives. Its mission is no less than Mapping the IT Universe by standardizing an object-oriented model (CIM) and related protocols (WBEM).

The conference was opened by a reception celebrating 15 years of DMTF and 10 years of CIM. Winston Bumpus gave a short overview on the history of the DMTF.

The DMTF was founded in 1992 as the Desktop Management Task Force, focussing on standards for managing desktop PCs. Two years later, the Desktop Management Interface (DMI) was published and quickly adopted. After releasing DMI 2.0 in August 1996, their mission was accomplished and the board considered closing the DMTF.

At that point, Patrick Thompson from Microsoft proposed to extend the management standardization beyond desktops and to cover the complete IT landscape. The original proposal already contained the key aspects and architectural components which are still valid today:

  • HMMS (Hypermedia Management Schema) — CIM today

  • HMOM (Hypermedia Object Manager) — CIMOM today

  • HMMP (Hypermedia Management Protocol) — CIM/XML over HTTP today

Initially a gang of five, namely BMC, Compaq, Intel, Microsoft and Sun accepted the proposal and continued funding the DMTF. In a tour de force with biweekly meetings over a period of 6 months the DMTF was able to present the Common Information Model 1.0 (CIM) in April 1997. It only covered the object-oriented modelling without any transportation protocol. This was added another year later (August 1998) with the Web Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) standard.

In 1999, the DMTF was renamed to Distributed Management Task Force, keeping the acronym (and all the advertising materials).

Today more than 200 companies with over 4000 participants contribute to the ongoing standardization efforts. In the 'Industry Showcase' and 'Interop Lab' rooms of the Conference, a wide variety of devices, tools and applications based on CIM are shown.

With the broad acception of Web Services for Management (WS-Management) true interoperable systems management now becomes a reality. Implementation range from baseboard management controllers (see here for drivers) and embedded devices to Open Source stacks and Microsoft Windows.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Memories from the past

I am in the heart of Silicon Valley visiting the Management Developers Conference which starts on Monday. More on that in a later post.

The first day I visited the Computer History Museum (CHM) with its marvelous collection of historic computers and parts. The majority of which is stored in the archive, vacuumed and wrapped in plastics preserved for future generations. Only a small fraction of artifacts is on display, dubbed visible storage.

Here one can see parts of the original ENIAC computer, a real IBM System/360, the Apollo Guidance Computer or a ZUSE Z23. Too bad I didn't bring my camera.

Whats unique about this museum are the - excuse me - human artifacts. Those guys and gals still living in Silicon Valley who designed and hacked the early machines. I really enjoyed a guided tour given by Ray Peck which was sprinkled with background information and anecdotes. Just wonderful.
Next was a live demonstration of the PDP-1 restoration project. One could see a 1961 computer up and running, demoed by Peter Samson and Lyle Bickley. They both hacked the PDP-1 during their student time at MIT. Peter is the original author of the PDP-1 music program and gave an example of his work. Hilarious !

On my way out, I picked up a free copy of Core, the museums biannual publication. The article about rescued treasures was most interesting, showing how challenging preserving history can be.

To quote from the museums flyer: "It's ironic that in an industry so concerned with memory, how quickly we forget."

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