A group of IT vendors including Microsoft and IBM are backing a specification aimed at making it easier to manage services on a network by creating a common way to define applications, servers and other IT assets. The vendors have submitted the specification, called the Service Modeling Language (SML), to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). SML defines a consistent way to communicate how computer networks, applications, servers and other IT resources are described, or modeled, in XML, Microsoft says. Microsoft, IBM, BEA Systems, BMC Software, CA, Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, Intel and Sun also submitted a companion specification, called the SML Interchange Format (SML-IF), to define how to exchange SML models between applications. SML works by enabling IT resource models to be created from reusable building blocks rather than requiring custom descriptions of every service. This should reduce cost and complexity for customers when they try to define network resources to manage services built on top of them, Microsoft says. Currently, different assets are identified on the network in different formats, which can leave some technical details lost in translation and make it hard to manage all of the services, the company says. All of the vendors contributed intellectual property to the specifications that were submitted to the W3C, according to Microsoft. Companies often come together to develop specifications that will standardise IT processes and then submit them to standards bodies. However, a quorum of companies must support and use a specification in order for it to be useful to the industry. More information about SML and SML-IF can be found on the W3C's website.