Groups aim to get mobility standards moving

Network managers know how difficult it is to manage wireless technology – slower Internet connections, spotty mobile phone service, questionable security and having to babysit equipment such as laptops in fear of theft.

In the face of such challenges, the Open Group and the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) have joined forces to accelerate the adoption of mobile standards and to promote interoperability of mobile devices. The way the Open Group is doing this is by helping the DMTF to add schemas for mobile devices into the DMTF’s Common Information Model (CIM) specification. CIM is a language and methodology for describing management data. There is currently no CIM schema for mobile devices.

“It became clear that CIM did not yet contain requirements and models for mobile management,” said Peter George, co-director of the Open Group’s Mobile Management Forum (MMF), when asked the reason behind the alliance. “What we hope to end up with is an architectural framework that enables boundaryless information flow across the whole enterprise.”

CIM is implementation-independent, allowing different management applications to collect the required data from a variety of sources. That means it allows applications to communicate with a variety of different hardware and software.

CIM includes schemas for systems, networks, applications and devices. It also provides mapping techniques for interchange of CIM data with management information base (MIB) data from simple network management protocol (SNMP) agents and management information file (MIF) data from desktop management interface (DMI)-compliant systems.

George said that in an office, computers are in a controlled, secure environment, with a physical security barrier, connected 24/7 to a high-speed bandwidth LAN. In an office, computers have access to support.

However, he said, in a mobile world, computers are easy to steal, there is a need for better security to protect against unauthorized data retrieval, but there also required are ways for companies to legitimately transmit and receive data to and from mobile devices.

But, he added, one of the problems is that the bandwidth they are connected to is about one ten-thousandth slower than a high-speed bandwidth connection. Therefore, companies need to find a way to communicate with mobile devices in a faster, more secure environment, but also in a way that recognizes the difference between different mobile devices, such as laptops, phones and PDAs.

The main difference, he said, is that mobile devices aren’t always connected to a network. So the server must be able to recognize that mobile devices might not answer a call immediately.

The two main goals in achieving interoperability between mobile devices are to define a secure mobile architecture and to find a way for device management and provisioning, he said.

The CIM model has helped develop management standards with the Internet and with directories with their Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM), and Directory Enabled Network (DEN) protocols – the Open Group is going to work with the DMTF in order to add mobile schemas to both of those protocols.

“The move extends the active partnership between The Open Group and DMTF in areas of joint concern to members, including DMTF standards CIM, WBEM and DEN and responds squarely to market demand for more cohesion in the mobile arena,” said Winston Bumpus, president of DMTF and Director of Open Technologies and Standards at Novell, Inc.

Accelerating the adoption of management standards, unifying industry management initiatives and promoting interoperability among management solution providers are the goals of the DMTF. They are located in Portland, Ore.

The Open Group, with main offices in the U.K., U.S. and Japan, is a global consortium of both end users, suppliers and consortia. It provides neutral ground for them to discuss and address current and emerging trends, establish policies and share their best practices. Working to develop consensus and to try to facilitate interoperability, it tries to help integrate specifications and develop open source technologies.

Driving to help the development and operation of the industry’s premier certification service and encouraging procurement of certified products, the Open Group also offers organizational services to consortia to help them work more efficiently.

Sun Microsystems Inc, a member of the Open Group, said that while the Open Group has not been successful in the past accelerating the adoption of mobile standards, they’re optimistic about the MMF since they reconstituted earlier this year.

“The Open Group is in a very good position to do this type of thing (accelerate the adoption of mobile standards) because they have both vendors and end-users (as members),” said Roger Martin, manager of standards strategy for Sun Microsystems, a member of the Open Group.

Carl Cargill, director of corporate standards for Sun, said he’s optimistic about the Mobile Management Forum, and when asked what Sun is looking for from it he said: “What we’re looking for from the Open Group is to bring these groups together to discuss various pieces and to put together the profile (for mobile standards),” he said.

“By defining these profiles, Open Group pushes the market in the direction it appears it wants to go,” added Martin. “The fundamental area of dispute is how open the specifications could be.”

Cargill said the MMF July meeting in Boston took a step in the right direction because no vendors made any presentations, thus there was true vendor neutrality.

“Everyone in the industry is playing by standards,” Cargill said. “It’s lead, follow or die.”