What is the Desktop Management Interface?

S.A. Keel

The desktop management interface (DMI) is a software system used for identifying and managing the components of a computer system. It is useful for any type of computer, and components that the computer is using can be either hardware or software. The system is network-capable as well, allowing for this information to be sent from one computer to another. With the DMI software framework, an administrator can establish a central management location to monitor the hardware and software running on any number of DMI-capable computer systems.

Desktop management interface may be used to manage the components of a single computer, and to enable computers to communicate over a network.
Desktop management interface may be used to manage the components of a single computer, and to enable computers to communicate over a network.

A coalition of computer hardware and software makers known as the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF®) first developed the desktop management interface framework. It was their first foray into developing a means for computer hardware and software management to ease in the administration of large computer networks. As such, it was designed with just that intent, so many of the DMI concepts were later integrated into the DMTF®'s common information model (CIM) standard. The DMTF® then announced the "end of life" for DMI in 2005.

The way the desktop management interface works is through the collection of data about the components of a computer system, which can then be read, written to, and gathered for administration purposes. DMI-enabled software and hardware components, also referred to as manageable products, generate small files that identify a component's features, functionality, and relationships with other components. These files are called management information format files, and are accessed via the other software that makes up the DMI.

This is where the the component interface (CI) software of the desktop management interface comes into play. The CI is an application programming interface that allows for the MIF files to be read from and written to. Acting as something of a bridge between any given component of the computer system and the administrator, the CI then communicates through the DMI framework's service layer.

The service layer is the critical pathway for the desktop management interface. In a DMI-managed computer system, the service layer is akin to a device driver. It's handled by the operating system and occupies a tiny bit of computer memory all the time in order to perform its role as the primary intermediary for the DMI framework's software. By gathering the information via the CI, the service layer then takes the data from the MIF files and collects them into a database. In this crucial role, the service layer is nestled between the component interface and the upper level known as the management interface (MI).

At the top level of the desktop management interface framework, the MI provides the means for specific programs to access and modify the MIF files through the service layer. These programs, referred to as management applications, can run on the DMI managed computer or across a network to establish a centralized administration of multiple computer systems. An administrator can use the MI applications view and modify a computer's components and their statuses and receive alerts if something has gone wrong.

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