New Management Standards May Ease Network Tuning

The San Jose-based Distributed Management Task Force Inc. (DTMF) recently released new schemas, or database definitions, that lay the groundwork for information technology managers to specify and guarantee quality-of-service levels.

Products that follow the schemas will let IT managers set policies that enforce performance levels, including those established under service-level agreements.

That previously hasn't been possible.

The Standards for Policy and Quality of Service (QOS) schemas are descriptive elements of the DTMF's Common Information Model (CIM) 2.4. A set of schemas for describing how systems and their components interact, CIM is a work in progress.

Coming Next Year

Products that incorporate the new standards will probably be available next year, said David Kosiur, an analyst at Burton Group Inc. in Midvale, Utah.

But "as far as policy . . . goes, no one has actually implemented" a policy-based network, Kosiur said. The breadth of the CIM standards helps ensure interoperability, but "it scares some people," Kosiur said. "They look at it [and] say, ‘Do I have to implement all of this?' "The answer is no, he said, as growing numbers of IT managers are finding.

CIM 2.4 systems will let network managers allocate network resources based on the business importance of the requesting transaction.

Revenue First

A manager could write a policy to ensure that if network traffic exceeds a certain level, users doing revenue-generating transactions would get precedence over those merely Web browsing, for example.

And that policy could further specify levels of action to be taken if response time for those transactions exceeded a desired limit.

Policy-based networks would handle such action automatically, which raises a trust issue among network managers, Kosiur said.

For policy-based networking to go anywhere, "we need ways to monitor what [the network] is doing," he said.

"CIM has an incredible amount of potential," Kosiur said. "I just hope that it doesn't die from the weight of its own potential."CIM 2.4 supports the Differentiated Services Quality of Service model, according to Raymond Williams, vice president of technology at the DMTF.

In this model, smart devices act as traffic cops, monitoring a stream of traffic. Based on the QOS specification of each message, the devices aggregate and direct the messages into appropriate QOS streams.

Integrated Services (IntServ) "capabilities will be added in a future version," Williams said.

IntServ is based on the industry standard Reservation Protocol and relies on devices that act more as maître d's. For each message, the device sends a signal to the maître d' device receiving the message, requesting a level of QOS. The maître d' confirms the reservation and the sends the message.

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