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September 6, 2012

New Standard Looks to Simplify Infrastructure Management

Robert Gelber

Last week, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) announced a specification named Cloud Infrastructure Management Interface, or CIMI. The new spec aims to make interactions between IaaS providers and end users a little easier by providing an accepted set of rules that they hope will get adopted across a range of cloud vendors.

The DMTF collaborates with a number of international organizations including the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and China Communications Standards Association (CCSA). In working with these groups, the task force wants to enable end users to have a familiar set of infrastructure management tools, regardless of their cloud provider.

Winston Bumpus, chairman of DMTF shared with HPC in the Cloud that the purpose behind this spec was to build an infrastructure management standard with wide industry support.

DMTF receives input, participation and contributions from a number of companies/vendors in the industry to ensure interoperability. DMTF also partners with a number of industry alliances in an effort to unify cloud management initiatives and to promote interoperability.

The CIMI v1.0 Spec consists of two essential elements:

  • A Primer to CIMI
  • The CIMI model and REST Interface over HTTP Specification

CIMI also supports the DMTFs Open Virtualization Format (OVF), which is an import/export standard adopted by ANSI and ISO.

The main feature of the spec so far is the REST protocol. This enables users to interact with infrastructures using requests over HTTP. For example, various keywords like PUT, GET, DELETE, HEAD or POST can be used to process Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD) operations.

Bumpus also mentioned that the standard is vendor neutral and he expects that CIMI will receive adoption over a variety of cloud providers. When asked how the spec would work for bare metal environments, the chairman explained that it would be possible to implement CIMI in those situations as well, although the spec was designed for use in virtualized infrastructures. Whether services like Penguin or Zunicore choose to adopt the standard is yet to be seen.

Given that lock-in is a concern with potential and existing cloud users, any specification that receives wide adoption across providers will likely come as welcome news. If CIMI is a success, it might pave the way for future platform standards.