Tivoli has mainframe management on tap

IBM last week announced a slew of upgrades to its Tivoli management software portfolio that the company says will help customers automate administrative tasks and view mainframe-specific statistics from one console.

"IBM knows the mainframe isn't going away, and it's investing heavily in management tools to make it easier for its customers to start integrating everything they manage together," says Rich Ptak, principal analyst with research firm Ptak, Noel & Associates. "Tivoli has been acquiring assorted mainframe capabilities to be able to provide customers with a complete set of products for mainframe and distributed systems."

The IBM Tivoli Omegamon zSeries suite includes several applications that address the management, storage and security tasks on mainframe systems. With these upgraded releases, IBM integrated systems management technology it acquired from Candle in April 2004 and from asset management vendor Isogon in July.

Big Blue used Candle products to develop the Tivoli Enterprise Portal, a new feature in Tivoli mainframe, distributed and application management products, which lets users view performance and availability management data collected by its monitoring software. The portal, in the case of the mainframe, would also let systems administrators bring the green screen interface they are accustomed to into the portal. The portal is featured in products such as Tivoli Omegamon XE for z/OS and IBM Tivoli Composite Application Management for SOA. IBM says the portal provides a common interface among its mainframe and distributed products to integrate data alongside IBM Tivoli License Manager for Contracts, which manages software licences across distributed systems.

The common theme to the upgrades within the mainframe suite was to build mainframe management products that could easily integrate with distributed systems management products and enable systems administrators to manage business critical applications across any type of infrastructure, IBM says.

"If you look at large enterprises and what they are trying to do, most of them are trying to deploy business services that are based on a composite application topology that includes a mainframe," said Alfred Zollar, general manager of Tivoli software at the IBM's user conference Share this week.

The Omegamon zSeries suite uses a combination of centralized management console software and distributed agents. The management console would be installed on a dedicated server, most likely not the mainframe system, and the agents would be distributed to mainframe and distributed systems. The data agents collect would then be sent to the management console for aggregation, correlation and reporting purposes. The management console can then feed data to the Web-based Tivoli Enterprise Portal, from which systems administrators could take action. Customers can also choose to use native interfaces, such as the green screen for mainframes, instead of the enterprise portal.

For example, IBM enhanced Tivoli Omegamon XE for z/OS Version 3.1.0 with new features that would make it easier for less-experienced systems administrators to diagnose system health based on events and alerts. The Expert Advice feature can provide details into what is most likely causing a performance or availability problem.

IBM also added the capability to configure the software to take automated actions based on events. Customers can configure the software to either automate the actions or prompt the systems administrator to kick off the actions to resolve a problem, depending on their comfort level with automation. IBM also added a new management console for z/OS.

IBM competes most directly with BMC Software and Computer Associates, both of which have upgraded mainframe management packages in the past year. The move is smart on all companies' parts, says Ptak, as the mainframe is gaining popularity among customers adopting emerging technologies such as Linux and Web services.

"The mainframe provides the availability, reliability, security and performance that is needed to sustain newer Web-based applications," he says. "And 20 percent of the mainframe capacity shipped by IBM runs Linux making it a major force in open systems solutions."

All products in the IBM Tivoli Omegamon zSeries suite are expected to be generally available by the fourth quarter. Pricing will be determined at that time.

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