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COSMOS: Eclipse Getting into Systems Management Standardization

Ian was kind enough to send along a pointer to the proposal for Project COSMOS at Eclipse. I probably missed the news in the stack of items that built up while I was at SAP TechEd last week. So, thanks, Ian 😉

From looking at the page, it looks interesting, esp. to anyone in the systems management world. Here’s an excerpt from the proposal:

Historically it has been the case that each data consumer leveraged some mechanism, often a local agent, to manage it’s access to the resource through some published api, and these agents would be in conflict with each other, causing customers to pick specific vendor solutions which implicitly excluded others. Because the use of the data is often greatly varied, and vendors typically do not cover every single user use case, this is a significant problem for end users. Users were also left with the cost of ownership and administration of these agents as they had to mix and match agents with run times depending on the tools they wanted to use. End users are now demanding agentless environments when environments provide native collection systems.

In order to address this set of problems, COSMOS intends to provide a data staging server that will exploit existing infrastructure and APIs to access data and normalize it into a single agreed form. In cases where local agents are required existing infrastructure such as JMX and WSDM will be used to access the data. COSMOS will promote standards based data collection systems.

Data-model and Tooling

My understanding, then, is that COSMOS (at the least the first phase) seeks to provide not only a data format (using SML), but also a data store, with APIs, that establishes semantics for “raw” systems management data. Of course, there’s an emphasis around tooling and UI components as well: it is, after all, Eclipse 😉

I may be reading functionality into the proposal too much because one of the ongoing architectural desires I had when developing in systems management was exactly that: coming up with a data model that everyone could use instead of re-inventing the wheel each time. Of course, building services and tooling around that data-model would be gravy.

Functionality like this is key when systems management platforms start interoperating and, more importantly, when you attach your systems management platform to CMDB. The problem there — from speaking with several people who are, uh, “blessed” with that task — is mapping each piece of data into the data-model and semantics of the CMDB. Trust me: that notion sends shivers down any developers spine.

Initial Comments

I’ll be digging into this more, of course, but off the top of my head I have these comments:

  • It’s great to see GroundWork in there in addition to several of the more BigCo participants.
  • RedMonk is, of course, big on “Eclipse momentum.” In this case, this means I’m more hopeful for the success of this systems management standard than I would be if Eclipse wasn’t involved. I’m frequently asked what I think of all systems management standards currently out there, and the answer I give is always the same: the last truly successful systems management standard we had was SNMP. There are finer points to debate, but if I had to choose one protocol for a platform I was building (aside from hack-protocols like screen-scraping SSH or telnet), it’d be SNMP. It’d be the only one that’d let me sleep at night. Point being: establishing a standard in systems management is Sisyphean task, but Eclipse is a good boulder pusher.
  • SIGAR, the OSS library largely done by Hyperic (apologies if I’m excluding non-Hyperic contributers), seems very much in the space of normalizing data. I was quite excited about the low-level functionality that SIGAR provided and, frankly, I’d check out using it if I were coding systems management applications and platforms. I included a brief explanation of SIGAR in a recent post on Hyperic.
  • As always, the Open Management Consortium is good for reactions to systems management announcements. And, I’d hope, good for collaboration as well. You can see several threads of discussion around the topic in their mailing list.

Disclaimer: Eclipse is a client.

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Categories: Open Source, Systems Management.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. The Way Things Go

    This post/email from whurley and thread from the OMC discuss list is worth taking a look at for COSMOS folks and people interested in the sausage making of standards. Here’s the nugget: [T]his morning I talked to one of the…