Desktop Management Interface (DMI)

Desktop Management Interface, or DNI, is a standard for managing desktop systems developed by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF).

What is DMI (Desktop Management Interface)?

A standard for managing desktop systems developed by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF). Using the Desktop Management Interface (DMI), information can be automatically collected from system components such as network interface cards (NICs), hard disks, video cards, operating systems, and applications that are compliant with the DMI standard.

DMI was designed to be operating system–independent and protocol-independent and was designed for use on local systems that do not have a network installed. DMI can be mapped to Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP).

Note that DMI itself does not specify a protocol for managing systems over the network; instead, it must use an existing network management protocol such as SNMP to send and receive information over the network.

What is DMI (Desktop Management Interface)?

DMI is similar in design to SNMP. Each component to be managed must have a Management Information Format (MIF) file that specifies the location of the component, name of vendor and model, firmware revision number, interrupt request line (IRQ), I/O port address, and so on. MIF files are formatted as structured ASCII flat-file databases; the Desktop Management Task Force has defined several standard MIFs including the Desktop System MIF file, the Adapter Card MIF file, and the Printer MIF file.

DMI service layer software running on the desktop collects information from DMI-enabled components and stores this information in the appropriate MIF file. The service layer thus acts as an intermediary between the DMI-enabled components and the DMI management application, and it coordinates shared access to the various MIFs installed on the desktop system. DMI management applications can then query the service layer on the desktop to obtain the various system components and applications from these MIF files. The service layer allows the management layer to interact with the MIFs by using commands such as

  • Get, which obtains information from a MIF
  • Event, which alerts the management application when certain events occur
  • Set, which modifies the contents of a MIF

One advantage of DMI over SNMP is that DMI management applications can access MIF files even when they have no prior information about them.

DMI management applications include Intel’s LANDesk and Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS). SMS uses standard DMI 4.5 MIF files to expose inventory data for systems it manages and then stores this information in a Microsoft SQL Server database.


The newer Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM) initiative from the DMTF proposes the Common Information Model (CIM) as a common abstraction layer for unifying the various existing data providers for system and network management, including DMI and SNMP. Microsoft has implemented WBEM into the Windows 2000 operating system as the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).