Under the leadership of Computer Associates, EDS and OpsWare, a number of vendors whose names and products have graced this newsletter over the years, have come together to form the Data Center Markup Language (DCML) organization.BEA, Marimba, BMC Software, ConfigureSoft, NetIQ, Tibco and AlterPoint among others have banded together to create a "...specification that provides a structured model & encoding to describe, construct, replicate, and recover data center environments and elements."What the group wants to do is to facilitate automatic and autonomic computing by creating a common group of objects, syntax and structure that allows multiple vendors and their products to exchange information about the data center environment. The goal is to enable data center automation, utility computing, and system management solutions.In kicking off the consortium, ConfigureSoft's CTO Dennis Moreau, said: ""To reduce the cost and complexity of managing data centers and prevent downtime, proprietary management applications must be able to communicate, share and act upon critical system data and events. DCML will provide an industry standard protocol that allows systems management applications to interoperate with each other and enables enterprises to more easily tune, align and optimize their data center infrastructures."While initiatives like this sometimes never do deliver on their promise and even those that do seem to take much longer than we'd like to deliver something useful, this is nevertheless a good first step towards helping us get better control of what apparently will always be a heterogeneous data center.What's being envisioned is a sort of automated provisioning system for hardware and enterprise applications so that environments can be replicated fairly easily especially within a disaster recovery scenario. I'm sure you all have a data center inventory in a file cabinet somewhere near your office. But how up to date is it? Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, floods, and tornados don't always give you time to bring your inventory up to date before they destroy your network.A common vocabulary, structure and syntax will allow management applications (such as ConfigureSoft's Enterprise Configuration Manager) to always know exactly how your data center is configured and deployed. That can mean savings of days or weeks, as well as savings of millions of dollars, should the worst happen.But DCML isn't only for disaster planning and recovery. I can envision daily reports showing exactly which changes have occurred so that it becomes an invaluable troubleshooting aid. During mergers and acquisitions (or divestitures and sales) it would allow for quick and efficient gathering of data about the newly acquired (or newly divested) entity.There's so much promise, we wish the group all the best.