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DMI (Distributed Management Interface)

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The DMI is a programming and reporting standard for managing desktop workstations. It basically allows a managed device like a PC to "publish" information about itself in a standard way that allows any network management application to gather that information for reporting and management purposes. DMI was defined by the DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force). Note that the DMTF changed its name from "Desktop Management Task Force" to "Distributed Management Task Force" in May of 1999. DMI was changed from "Desktop Management Interface" to "Distributed Management Interface."

The DMI is an API that provides network managers with information about workstations on the network. The primary objective is to reduce network managers' workloads by providing them with vital workstation information, and assisting them with configuration and updating tasks. Managers can view information and carry out management tasks from their offices, saving time and even eliminating travel, in some cases.

The DMI defines how manufacturers of hardware products such as network interface cards or networking software can integrate "agents" into their products that collect information and report back to a management utility. Manufacturers don't need to worry about which protocols and operating systems end users will run with their management products. This is all handled by management software. The DMI is open to any management application or protocol, and all applications that adopt the DMI can call the same interface. DMI can be implemented in computers and peripheral components such as printers, modems, and storage devices.

Automation is the primary advantage of DMI. DMI-compatible agents perform tasks in the background and compile information that a normal network manager would never have time to gather using manual methods. This information can be vital to network managers for troubleshooting or to monitor changing conditions on the network. Potential problems may become evident through this process.

The DMI provides a common method for issuing requests and commands, called the MI (management interface). Management systems that are DMI compliant use this interface to access management information. The CI (component interface) allows products to be managed by applications calling the DMI. The CI lets product manufacturers define the level of management needed for their products. One component defined in the DMI is the MIFF (management information format file). The MIFF is a text file that collects information about systems and makes it available to management programs. Vendors provide MIFFs with their DMI-compliant products.

Network administrators obtain information through a DMI interface, such as basic information about processor types, available memory, and disk space on desktop systems. Information about hardware and software components is also available, including how components are configured, whether they are working, and whether they may be due for an upgrade (based on versioning). This information can help managers quickly resolve problems and provide upgrades.

DMI version 2.0 was released in early 1998. In the meantime, the DMTF's CIM (Common Information Model) has gained the attention of network managers. CIM defines a hierarchical, object-oriented information model with a schema that can describe the full range of enterprise network management information. A core model is applicable to all areas of management. A common model defines information in specific areas, including systems, applications, databases, networks, and devices. Extensions are also possible, such as the information model for DEN (Directory Enabled Networks). This goes well beyond DMI, but CIM also includes a specification that describes how CIM integrates with other management models, such as DMI and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). Network management applications can use XML to display and exchange CIM information.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.