SMS: WMI terms and concepts

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Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), the Microsoft implementation for Web Based Enterprise Management (WBEM), is an integral component of Systems Management Server.

This article provides a very simplistic introduction to WMI for the Systems Management Server administrator and defines basic terms and concepts necessary to know when you manage one or more Systems Management Server sites.


WBEM is a unifying architecture that allows access to data from a variety of underlying technologies - including Win32, WMI, the Desktop Management Interface (DMI), and the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). WBEM is based upon the Common Information Model (CIM) schema, which is an industry standard driven by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF).

The Systems Management Server Site Database, Administrator Console and the Client Hardware Inventory component all depend on WMI.

WBEM provides a three-tiered approach for collecting and providing management data. This approach consists of a standard mechanism for storing data (a CIM-compliant database), a standard protocol for obtaining and disseminating management data (COM/DCOM; other protocols are also possible and under investigation), and a Win32 DLL known as a WBEM provider.


A component of the CIM (Common Information Model) is the CIMOM (Common Information Model Object Manager) repository. This datastore is where providers determine how to retrieve their information.

Although not technically accurate, it helps to think of the CIMOM in terms of a database. Definitions of WMI terms, and the corresponding concept in database terminology are in the following list.

   WBEM term    WBEM definition                    Database term
   Namespace    A collection of all classes.       Database

   Class        Describes datatypes in a
                schema. Object class definition.   Table
   Properties   A single attribute of a class.     Column
   Instance     One object of this class type.     Row
   Value        The data for a property of a       Field
                specific instance.

Providers and WBEM

A WBEM provider supplies instrumentation data for parts of the CIM schema. Microsoft has written the WMI provider (a WBEM provider) that interfaces with the kernel mode WMI component. The kernel mode WMI component provides services that allow WMI-enabled drivers to implement WMI, and also acts as an interface to the WMI provider.

Systems Management Server uses the SMS Site Provider as the mechanism between the SMS Administrator's Console and the site server's SQL database. The Systems Management Server Hardware Inventory Client component uses the WMI Win32 provider.

The specifications for writing a WBEM provider are available for free, as well as code examples. Microsoft recommends that an IHV or OEM that manufactures hardware and software for end users such as a still-image scanner or a printer, write a WBEM provider. We recommend the IHV or OEM implement the WMI provider for kernel components.

For additional information about WMI and WBEM:
Additional Resources for Systems Management Server 2.0:

Systems Management Server 2.0 SDK
Systems Management Server Resource Guide, Back Office Resource Kit vol 4.5, Chapter 10, "WMI and the Hardware Inventory Process".


Article ID: 216738 - Last Review: February 25, 2007 - Revision: 6.4
  • Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003
  • Microsoft Systems Management Server 2.0 Standard Edition
kbinfo KB216738

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