DMTF tries to SMASH systems management costs

Winston Bumpus, president of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) says point products and a lack of standards are driving up systems management costs.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. -- This week at the Next Generation Data Center Conference, SearchDataCenter.com sat down with the president of the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), Winston Bumpus. He explains how systems management standards, like the Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) Initiative, can make life easier in the data center.

Listen to our audio Q&A with Bumpus.

The DMTF keeps a low profile, but its leadership includes members from every major IT vendor. The organization develops and promotes interoperable management standards among multi-vendor systems and tools. Bumpus is director systems management architecture for Dell, in addition to his duties with the DMTF. In this audio Q&A from NGDC, Bumpus outlines the trends that are driving up costs and complexity in systems management:

Why are systems management costs spinning out of control?

  • Vendors have separate tools for each problem they try to fix.
  • Lots of tools aim for -- but aren't delivering -- a holistic view of the data center.
  • Users are forced to manage failures at the component level.
  • Each piece of equipment has individual custom scripts, even between product models at the same company.
  • Users are getting burned on shelfware -- tools that don't work, don't provide what was planned or don't integrate into the environment.
  • Companies are throwing more people at the problem.

How can standards reduce systems management costs?

  • Standardized management protocols will reduce the number of tools needed.
  • Admins can spend less time managing the management tools -- improving admin efficiency, reducing training requirements and learning curves.
  • Less tools equals less risk of admin error and downtime.
  • Standards increase choice between vendors, and competition.

What can users to about systems management nightmares? According to Bumpus, things are only going to get worse without systems management standards. Virtualization is driving change in data center environments. IT managers are going to need to standardize how virtual machines are managed and deployed

Even the data center power and cooling crisis will affect systems management, as new instrumentation to monitor and control IT energy consumption comes online and becomes an IT issue.

Bumpus said standards should be driven by customers. "IT managers need to stand up and tell vendors 'Do it the same way or we're not going to buy your box anymore.'" He encourages end users to become involved with the DMTF. "When end users speak up, vendors listen." Bumpus said.

This was first published in August 2007

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