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Systems Management: Common Information Model (CIM)
Copyright © 1998 The Open Group


There are many ways in which the Common Information Model (CIM) can be used. This introductory Chapter provides a context in which the details described in subsequent Chapters and Appendices can be understood.


Ideally, information used to perform tasks is organized or structured to allow disparate groups of people to use it. This can be accomplished by developing a model or representation of the details required by people working within a particular domain. Such an approach can be referred to as an information model.

An information model requires a set of legal statement types or syntax to capture the representation, and a collection of actual expressions necessary to manage common aspects of the domain (in this case, complex computer systems).

Because of the focus on common aspects, this information model is referred to as the Common Information Model (CIM).

This document describes an object-oriented metamodel based on the Unified Modeling Language (UML). This model includes expressions for common elements that must be clearly presented to management applications (for example, object classes, properties, methods and associations). This document does not describe specific CIM implementations, APIs, or communication protocols.

Further development work on CIM is planned by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF) CIM Technical Development Committee. Up-to-date information on this work may be found at their Web site, at

CIM Management Schema

Management schemas are the building blocks for management platforms and management applications, such as device configuration, performance management, and change management. CIM is structured in such a way that the managed environment can be seen as a collection of interrelated systems, each of which is composed of a number of discrete elements.

CIM supplies a set of classes with properties and associations that provide a well-understood conceptual framework within which it is possible to organize the available information about the managed environment. It is assumed that CIM will be clearly understood by any programmer required to write code that will operate against the object schema, or by any schema designer intending to make new information available within the managed environment.

CIM itself is structured into three distinct layers:

Development of CIM schema is being undertaken as a continuing activity that of necessity has to follow behind the definition of the CIM language described in this document. The current set of approved schema will be referenced from the on-line version of this specification, which can be found at

At the time of publication it has not been determined whether the management schema will be made available in printed form.

Core Model

The Core model is a small set of classes, associations and properties that provide a basic vocabulary for analyzing and describing managed systems. The Core model represents a starting point for the analyst in determining how to extend the common schema. While it is possible that additional classes will be added to the Core model over time, major re-interpretations of the Core model classes are not anticipated.

Common Model

The Common model is a basic set of classes that define various technology-independent areas. These areas are:

The classes, properties, associations and methods in the Common model are intended to provide a view of the area that is detailed enough to use as a basis for program design and, in some cases, implementation.

Extensions are added below the Common model, in platform-specific additions that supply concrete classes and implementations of the Common model classes. As new extensions become available, the Common model will offer a broader range of information.

Extension Schema

The Extension schemas are technology-specific extensions to the Common model. It is expected that the Common model will evolve as a result of the promotion of objects and properties defined in the Extension schemas.

CIM Implementations

CIM is a conceptual model that is not bound to a particular implementation. This allows it to be used to exchange management information in a variety of ways. Four of these ways are illustrated in Four Ways to Use CIM , and described below. It is possible to use these ways in combination within a management application.

Figure: Four Ways to Use CIM

As a repository, the constructs defined in the model are stored in a database. These constructs are not instances of the object, relationship, and so on; but rather are definitions for someone to use in establishing objects and relationships. The metamodel used by CIM is stored in a repository that becomes a representation of the metamodel. This is accomplished by mapping the metamodel constructs into the physical schema of the targeted repository, and then populating it with the classes and properties expressed in the Core schema, Common schema, and Extension schemas.

For an application Data Base Management System (DBMS), the CIM is mapped into the physical schema of a targeted DBMS (for example, relational). The information stored in the database consists of actual instances of the constructs. Applications can exchange information when they have access to a common DBMS and the mapping occurs in a predictable way.

For application objects, the CIM is used to create a set of application objects in a particular language. Applications can exchange information when they can bind to the application objects.

For exchange parameters, the CIM (expressed in some agreed-to syntax) is a neutral form used to exchange management information by way of a standard set of object APIs. The exchange can be accomplished via a direct set of API calls or it can be accomplished by exchange oriented API which can create the appropriate object in the local implementation technology.


The ability to exchange information between management applications is fundamental to CIM. The current mechanism for exchanging management information is the Management Object Format (MOF). At the present time, no programming interfaces or protocols are defined by this CIM document, and hence t does not provide an exchange mechanism. Therefore, a CIM-capable system must be able to import and export properly formed MOF constructs. How the import and export operations are performed is implementation-defined for the CIM-capable system.

Objects instantiated in the MOF must, at a minimum, include all key properties and all properties marked as required. Required properties have the REQUIRED qualifier present and set to TRUE.

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