EDS and Opsware are hoping to bring order to the utility-computing space with a new standard called Data Center Markup Language.
DCML is an XML-based standard that creates a blueprint of all the devices in the data center, including configurations, policies and management procedures for those devices. By capturing how a data-center environment is constructed, any portion of the data center can systematically be reproduced, rebuilt or reprovisioned should disaster strike.
"Capturing that kind of information in a DCML format [enables] business continuity or the ability to replicate a data center from a physical and operational standpoint, but it also gives us the ability to look at ways to move into services-oriented IT, where IT at some point doesn't matter," said Darrel Thomas, chief technologist of hosting services at EDS, Plano, Texas.
Opsware CEO Ben Horowitz says DCML standard will make billing much easier.
More than 20 vendors,including Computer Associates International, BEA Systems, Mercury Interactive, Marimba, Micromuse and Akamai Technologies,have pledged support for DCML.
Configuresoft, which developed a solution that monitors thousands of configurations, also signed on to support the DCML effort.
"DCML describes what systems should look like based on policies put in place, but once in the field, systems always change," said Dennis Moreau, CTO and vice president of development at Configuresoft, Woodland Park, Colo. "So what DCML does for us is establish what the system should look like and shows what's off-kilter once it's out in the field, which allows us to bring it back in line."
DCML promises to help alleviate billing issues as well, which is a major deterrent to the utility-computing model as solution providers and vendors try to figure out how to bill based on usage.
"DCML really helps with billing, because one of the difficulties with utility computing is you have to know what's on the machine in a specific way because you're billing people for who's running what application, who's got what software out there [and] how it is configured," said Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware, Sunnyvale, Calif. "That information has to feed into the billing system in order for the billing system to be able to bill out on a per-customer basis. Right now, the problem is the software that manages those systems and the different billing software from different vendors don't interconnect. DCML will make that much easier."