Hewlett-Packard Co and Intel Corp will today announce a network management firmware standard that they hope will attract industry backing to gather intelligent system monitoring into one layer and lead eventually to self-healing systems. The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), which is also backed by IBM Corp and NEC Corp, aims to insert a firmware layer between the hardware, in the form of the I2C bus and the software layer, which contains the communications protocols between the devices and the CPU, such as DMI, SNMP and CIM. By doing this, the group hope to make the software layer as thin as possible, which will safeguard against turbulence in the software standards and leave the CPU to just check the software event log, rather than do all the monitoring itself. HP and friends would like to submit IPMI to a standards body in the long run, but want to build industry momentum first. HP will also announce today the extension of its TopTools branding to its NetServer Windows NT server line – it is currently used in its Vectra personal computer and workstations and its palmtop products. TopTools replaces the NetServer Assistant network management application and now enables network monitoring, diagnostics and troubleshooting from a browser. The company has already hooked it up to OpenView and promises to have Computer Associates International Inc’s Unicenter TNG integrated by the time TopTools ships in December. The advantage of making it browser-based – a move made by most other vendors already – is that it will be compatible with all future desktops. HP has also added some new diagnostic tools, and provided better inventory information to the new version. In connection with all of this, the company has launched a remote support service for resellers to move from box-shifting to the much higher-margin service and support business. HP is using its experience in its own support center in Colorado to products the support packages to make them easier to sell. The TopTools suite for NetServers will be available for free in December.
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