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The Common Information Model: Mapping the Computing Universe


In my previous posts, I have discussed several standards and technologies that are being developed to improve the manageability and serviceability of computer systems. One of the key technologies is a thing called the Common Information Model known as CIM (pronounced SYM). This decade-old technology is embedded in computing from notebooks to desktops and servers to storage devices and systems.

So what is it and why should you care? As Dell has been involved in the development of this technology since its beginnings in the collaborative standards work within the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the work has provided steady progress to a noble goal—to map all of computer technology to a single model so that complex heterogeneous distributed systems can be managed. This is similar to the work that went on at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich England, in the 18th century, to map the known universe of stars, constellations, and other celestial objects. Without their work navigation and commerce would be difficult, if not impossible.

CIM which has been in systems since Windows 98, and is now found standard today in most Linux distributions as well as many other computing systems, provides the common way that all computer systems and their elements are described. Today there are over 1,500 objects that have been defined and agreed to by over 100 companies. These objects have defined over 3,000 properties on the objects. With these object and properties common terminologies and descriptions can now be understood and used for hardware and software management as well as for servicing the equipment. It also allows for describing the relationships between components and systems so that a problem of sending email can be traced through the associated network drivers and cards to the mail server, to aid in diagnosing the failing component.

Earlier, I discussed the Common Diagnostics Model (CDM), which is a model built using CIM. Some of you may also be familiar with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). It too uses CIM as the way it describes and manages all aspects of Windows-based systems. There are other examples such as the Storage Networking Industry Association’s (SNIA) Storage Management Instrumentation Specification and there are many more.

So like the mapping of the known universe, the work in developing the model and its implementation in millions of computing nodes has helped IT, support centers and help desks to keep your computers off of the rocks. I’ll build off this information in future posts.

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