A group of five influential networking companies is collaborating to develop a standard way of managing personal computers attached to networks (CI No 1,925). Current standards are concerned solely with handling network devices and administrators are left in the dark about what is going on inside individual personal computers unless they use one of a […]
A group of five influential networking companies is collaborating to develop a standard way of managing personal computers attached to networks (CI No 1,925). Current standards are concerned solely with handling network devices and administrators are left in the dark about what is going on inside individual personal computers unless they use one of a growing clutch of proprietary packages. Intel Corp, Microsoft Corp, Novell Inc, Sun Microsystems Inc’s SunConnect and Synoptics Communications Inc announced during the Interop show that that they would work together to fill the gap and extend standard, albeit de facto management right into the personal computer. Our goal is to provide a reference model – a standard set of application programming interfaces and objected interfaces, says Chris Thomas, Intel’s manager of core technology in the company’s personal computer enhancement division. The group has been in communication for about four months and we think that we can move fairly quickly to have the specification ready by the end of summer. The reference implementation will then be distributed free of charge to interested parties. The move, says Thomas, has been prompted by dissatisfaction among users at the number of disparate management agents that they are having to place on client workstations. The lack of a standard means that an administrator who buys an application metering package, a remote management package and a hardware inventory tracker can end up placing three separate terminate and stay resident – TSR – programs on each personal computer. If the new standard takes off then a single agent will be able to collect data on behalf of any number of management applications. The scope of the group’s work is broad. On the asset management side, the finished spec should encompass such as aspects as what drivers are loaded, the contents of the machines CMOS memory, and a break down of such features as the space free on the local drive. The agent will also be able to monitor which applications are running, says Thomas, making it applicable to software licence metering. On top of this, Intel is considering whether it is practical to include some sort of virus protection and the ability of the network manager to take over remote machines a la Carbon Copy. At the moment the group is being a little coy about the form that the practical implementation will take. Sun’s involvement indicates that the basis for the work may turn out to be the Simple Network Management Protocol, SNMP, and indeed Thomas says that there is no reason why the APIs that we provide couldn’t fill a MIB (management in formation base). However he adds that SNMP is not formally specified within the group’s work.