Microsoft Windows Server Datacenter Abstraction Layer (DAL)

The Microsoft Windows Server Datacenter Abstraction Layer (DAL) is a software framework intended to enable consistent monitoring and management of hardware found in the typical data center environment.

The DAL is composed of various software components and schemas that form an abstraction layer between managed devices -- such as servers, storage subsystems, power distribution units and top-of-rack switches -- and the various applications or services that seek to manage those devices. For example, managed devices typically include compute, storage and network hardware as well as underlying operating systems and other devices, such as graphics accelerators. Applications that typically seek management information usually include Microsoft Windows Server for individual servers, System Center for the local data center, and Azure Fabric Controller for cloud services. The DAL fits between these two levels.

The DAL relies on several key foundation technologies to establish the abstraction layer between devices and management tools. The DAL employs the Common Information Model (CIM) as the modeling language, uses Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) as the CIM object manager, and uses Web Services Management as the communication protocol. These technologies allow the DAL to provide extensibility needed to manage a variety of diverse systems through plug-ins. Both Microsoft and third-party vendors can create plug-ins to support specific data center deployments.

Administrators can work with the DAL through Windows PowerShell using a series of dedicated cmdlets that allow support for Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware and Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) devices. The use of PowerShell also allows for a level of scripting and automation in DAL operations. Developers versed in the underlying technologies such as CIM, WS-MAN and OMI can create plug-ins to support non-standard or third-party devices.

Microsoft debuted the DAL in Microsoft Windows Server 2012.

This was last updated in October 2016

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