DMTF spec promises to make managing hardware easier

* DMTF’s SMASH Command Line Protocol

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.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.