Tivoli preps for business impact management

IBM's Tivoli Systems unit is set to make over its entire line of offerings as part of a broad effort to extend network and systems management capabilities across the Internet.

Beginning this spring, Tivoli will begin to embrace a variety of IBM application server and Web services technologies to take Tivoli technology into the realm of "business impact management," said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of Austin, Texas-based Tivoli Software, IBM Software Group.

"We think that over time, systems management will be more proactive where I can gather up information and understand business patterns," LeBlanc said. "That's why we call it Business Impact Management."

The first steps toward achieving that goal will result in Tivoli software being hosted on top of IBM's WebSphere application server and integrated with IBM's MQSeries messaging software, LeBlanc said.

"We are going to leverage WebSphere and Web services underneath the covers," LeBlanc said. "It enables us to get to a Web-based infrastructure from what has been a traditional client/server architecture."

A Web-based infrastructure is a critical element for any network and systems management platform to be relevant in the enterprise today, said industry analysts.

"Currently, Web-based infrastructures promise flexibility, promise reuse of code, promise integration and open standards," said Cameron Haight, research director for Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner. "The key here is not to reinvent the wheel."

IBM's ultimate goal is to use Tivoli as a platform for not only managing systems and networks, but to create a platform for essentially managing business processes across the Internet.

"It goes beyond just managing systems," LeBlanc said. "We think systems management will move from the realm of being IT-centric to being more business-centric."

Another benefit provided by WebSphere integration is that it allows IBM to more easily open the Tivoli framework to third-party products, said LeBlanc.

"It just makes it easier for the customer to deploy, and gives them more capability to integrate third-party solutions in an open fashion," said LeBlanc. "We are going to integrate the next generation of Tivoli products with Eclipse, and that'll help customers build applications that can take advantage of an open set of systems management services that are going to become available over time."

Eclipse is an open-source project led by IBM to create an integrated environment for application developers.

The ability to finally leverage a raft of supporting IBM technologies should breathe renewed life into IBM's efforts to compete with Computer Associates, BMC Software, and Hewlett-Packard in this space, said industry analysts.

According to Haight, Tivoli is trying to right itself from a competitive advantage to other major systems and network management vendors that opted to focus on drilling down to defined customer problems rather than architecture "plumbing" issues.

"Things like DB2, Webshpere, and MQSeries will be key components of any 'go-forward' [Web services] architecture. Leveraging some of the heavy lifting that is being done by other parts of IBM is absolutely the thing to do," he said.

As customers continue to hunt for cost effective best-of-breed purchases, however, Tivoli could find itself potentially alienating its market base as it travels back down a monolithic framework road, said Corey Ferengul, senior program director, service management strategies for Stanford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

"When you have something like WebSphere or MQSeries as a backbone, you make it hard to sell small direct point products. Suddenly you're locking yourself into this big framework, and customers are pushing away from that," said Ferengul. "Unless Tivoli can completely hide [integration points] and not make technology completely complex, it's not the wisest move."

BMC Software, a competitor of Tivoli, says it has no plans to drastically revamp its product line to manage Web services. Instead, the Houston-based network management software vendor will leverage existing partnerships with application server and Web server players such as BEA, WebMethods, and even IBM to provide monitoring and performance metering of services within those environments.

"In the future we will make it easier for [multiple profiled Web services] applications to exchange information and manage the discreet pieces of technology as they relate to service, and end-users' perspective of that service," said Dave Samia, director of marketing and development for application integration management at BMC. "[BMC] technology will be platform-agnostic."

Samia said BMC is ramping up a new Java application management solution that will integrate with IBM WebSphere and WebLogic by this summer.

BMC has embedded message-oriented middleware and data integration tools into its flagship Patrol 7 product using Talarian's Smart Sockets software. Tibco announced its plans to acquire Talarian last January.

"BMC has technology that will manage a server that UDDI [Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration] technology lives on, a Siebel application, Ariba supply chain, BroadVision shopping cart -- that will monitor, from an end-user's perspective, that application as it invokes CRM or supply-chain or anything it needs to do to fulfill orders," Samia said.

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