Desktop Management Interface (DMI) is an industry framework for managing and keeping track of hardware and software components in a system of personal computers from a central location. DMI was created by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF) to automate system management and is particularly beneficial in a network computing environment where dozens or more computers are managed. DMI is hardware and operating system-independent, independent of specific management protocol, easy for vendors to adopt, mappable to existing management protocols such as the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and used on network and non-network computers. DMI consists of four components:
- Management Information Format (MIF): An MIF is a text file that contains specific information about the hardware and software being used on a computer. An MIF file consists of one or more groups containing attributes, which describe each component. By default, each MIF file contains the standard component ID group. This group contains the product name, version, serial number, and the time and date of the last installation. The ID number is assigned based on when the component was installed in relation to other components. Manufacturers can create their own MIFs specific to a component. For example, a manufacturer might write an MIF file for a fax/modem that contains two groups: a fax group and a modem group. Some group attributes include warranty information, support phone numbers, and any errors encountered. This information is then sent to an MIF database.
- Service layer: The service layer is memory-resident code that acts as a mediator for the management interface and the component interface and allows management and component software to access MIF files in the MIF database. The service layer is available as an operating system add-on and is a shared resource for all programs. Because the service layer must run all the time, it is designed not to use a lot of memory. The service layer also includes a common interface called the local agent, which is used to manage individual components.
- Component interface (CI): The CI is an application program interface (API) that sends status information to the appropriate MIF file via the service layer. Commands include the Get and Set command that modifies the MIF as needed and the Event command that notifies management software of critical events.
- Management interface (MI): The management software communicates with the service layer using the MI application program interface. The MI allows administrators to issue the Get and Set command and the List command that lists all the DMI-manageable devices.
To use DMI, you need a DMI-compliant management software package and a DMI-compliant computer. A DMI-compliant computer includes the CI, the MI, and the service layer. These drivers are available for download on the Internet.
Intel's LANDesk Client Manager (LANDesk Client Manager) is based on DMI.
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- Dell Computers plans to offer DMI support in its NetPC as part of a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) strategy.