SMASH protocol a hit at Enterprise Management World

Data center managers got their first real taste of an emerging protocol for managing servers Monday and Tuesday here at Enterprise Management World. And judging by initial impressions, Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware (SMASH) was a smash hit.

SMASH is a proposed command-line protocol backed by Distributed Management Task Force Inc. and major server vendors and is built atop DMTF's Common Information Model.

The protocol first emerged in December and performs a variety of functions, including something as simple as using a common language for technologies and processes related to server operations. For example, some server makers refer to their hardware as a CPU while others call it a processor. SMASH can be used to develop a set of agreed-upon terms, DMTF officials said.

It can also be used to set up a common interface for working with remote servers in branch offices and other locations, where IT personnel may not be present and network commands have to be used. SMASH also enables remote capabilities to power on or off a server connected to a network.

Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Dell Inc. all demonstrated current versions of the protocol for visitors at this week's event, which is sponsored by the DMTF and Computerworld.

James Nawa, manager of IT infrastructure at Carpenter Technology Corp. in Reading, Pa., said the protocol is needed at his company's 30 global locations -- where sometimes the only person available to power on or off a server is a secretary or a sales manager. "We have a need for it," he said.

Winston Bumpus, president of the DMTF, said the vendor community is "firmly behind" SMASH, meaning he expects it to be widely implemented. It will be especially important to IT managers as emerging technologies such as grid and utility computing are implemented at companies.

John Humphreys, an analyst for enterprise computing at Framingham, Mass.-based market research company IDC, said users will be able to use SMASH to write scripts to provide basic functions across technology from different vendors. "It's a great thing for distributed computing," he said.

Lee Johns, director of software for the global business unit at HP, also predicted "rapid adoption" of SMASH.

A DMTF spokeswoman said the protocol is expected to be ratified within a year, although no exact date for that has yet been set.

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