Until now, there has been no standard way of expressing the resources and infrastructure you need when you create a new service or implement a new application or database.
A collection of household names have now banded together to propose a new XML modeling language specification that would standardize how to specify the computer networks, servers, storage devices, applications, and other IT resources are specified. Call it a UML for describing IT infrastructure.
The sponsors include a who’s who of the IT industry: BEA, BMC Software, Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Sun.
The new language, called Service Modeling Language (SML), adapts and extends XML Schema to represent the elements and interdependencies of IT infrastructure and the resources that consume it.
In effect, it would provide a standard language for modeling the architecture of a proposed system or change to it. It would be extensible in that it could be used to tag specific resources, down to whatever level of specificity that the user requires.
The proposed standard does not specify the actual tags that would be used for identifying IT resources. Instead, it specifies how XML Schema would be modified to support it. That’s similar to the way that web services are described in a WSDL document.
While the WSDL spec does not specify what the tags are, it lays out the syntax for expressing them.
For instance, you could provide a name for a billing application or procurement service, specify that it requires a database, or even a specific vendor database such as Oracle or DB2. And then you could specify the servers, networks, storage, middleware, or other resources that would have to be provisioned to run that application or service.
The advantage of such a modeling language is that it would make it easier to replicate or modify a configuration before it is provisioned for the new application or service. And because it would be a standard, it would simplify specification of resources that include offerings from multiple vendors.
SML would use XML Schema, the standard for expressing data structure, and extend or adapt it in several ways. For instance, SML would add the ability to specify references to other documents as a way to represent versioning. It would also utilize Schematron, a proposed standard for specifying rules and constraints that is currently under consideration by ISO and the IEC.
The next steps include soliciting public comments and choosing a standards body for submitting the spec. The group hopes to have a standards body chosen by the end of the year.