Bill Gropp is working on an MPI2 proposal to elevate MPI Datatypes
to first class objects. This would enable developers to simply
MPI_Pack() a datatype, send it with any of the MPI communication
routines, and then unpack at the receiving end into a committed datatype.
Also under consideration is the specification of architectural information
as a communicator object. Again, this could be packed and transmitted
via standard functions.
Future Massive Data Archiving systems could use the packed datatype
as metadata in a DBMS-driven environment.
An intelligent file server could use the architecture information to beat
the N:1:N binary data file format problem into an N:1:1 binary
translation and use the datatype to perform intelligent parallel I/O.
Both of these objects could be packed with a user's dataset
(or otherwise used as a header) to create a completely self-describing
stored data object.
Another plus to both of these efforts: NO new functions!