Hoping to bring utility computing closer to fruition, 25 companies last week unveiled the XML-based standards initiative DCML (Data Center Markup Language). The standard is designed to serve as the foundation on which users can build and deploy enterprise-capable applications.
Led by Opsware, Electronic Data Systems, Computer Associates, and BEA Systems, the founding companies also announced the formation of the DCML Organization, which will be largely responsible for advancing and maintaining the proposed standard.
The long-range goal of DCML is to introduce a simpler way to achieve interoperability among widely disparate IT systems, thereby encouraging the use of utility computing among larger datacenters.
"Without a standards-based mechanism that better defines datacenter relationships, IT operations management will continue to struggle with implementing configuration and change-management processes, which would then continue to remain very labor intensive," said Donna Scott, a senior analyst at Gartner.
The proposed standard encompasses a range of datacenter elements including network and storage components. It also contains support for operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Unix, in addition to software infrastructure products and accompanying applications, a DCML Organization spokesperson said.
Executives from the founding companies contend that DCML is the first standard model to describe what is contained in a datacenter and, more specifically, how that environment is constructed. By doing so it enables a systematic reproduction, rebuilding, or reprovisioning of any portion of the datacenter environment, they said.
Marc Andreessen, Opsware's chairman, said DCML can be thought of as HTML for the datacenter. While it may take some time for it to become widely adopted -- particularly by IBM, Sun, and Microsoft -- Andreessen said he believes DCML will follow the same acceptance curve as did HTML and TCP/IP.
"To me, where [DCML] is right now is analogous to HTML and TCP/IP. Companies like IBM and Sun were not in favor of them originally but ended up adopting them and are now enthusiastic supporters," Andreessen said.
Version 1.0 of DCML will be out early next year, according to Andreessen. Opsware is expected to make its offering fully complaint with the specification by the end of the first quarter of 2004.