System tools slim down to cut costs

Forced into an about-face by economic realities, systems management vendors are slimming down monolithic packages to reduce complexity and cost.

Companies such as BMC Software Inc., Tivoli Systems Inc., and Computer Associates International Inc. report that shrinking IT budgets, combined with pressure to maintain distributed applications and architectures, are forcing enterprises to seek sharper-focused systems management tools at entry-level costs.

To that end, BMC will this week introduce Patrol Express, an agent-less monitoring product that offers Web-based reporting of noncritical systems and applications services.

Patrol Express reduces maintenance and management complexity by monitoring QoS (quality of service) through end-users rather than devices overrun with agents, said Mary Nugent, vice president and general manager at Houston-based BMC. Nugent said Patrol Express in the future will monitor Web services and SOAP messages by way of its integration with BMC's Patrol systems management product.

Noting that the sizes of his company's deals are shrinking in favor of targeted purchases, Tivoli market strategist Bruce Dillon said Tivoli's past "weakness" of scaling down has been rectified since the debut of Tivoli Monitoring 5.1 in April.

According to David Hochhauser, vice president of marketing for Unicenter at Islandia, N.Y.-based CA, enterprises need monitoring solutions that do not require agents. "Organizations are attacking things from a project-to-project point of view, not on an enterprise basis," said Corey Ferengul, vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

Joe Banks, senior network engineer at systems integrator Lockheed Martin, said monitoring agents can cause any number of problems for systems management software. "When I look at CA [Unicenter], we spend a lot more time opening work-order tickets on [monitoring] agents than tickets on actual problems," Banks said.

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