IBM's Tivoli vows to make management simpler

Big promises from Tivoli can't disguise the fact that the improvements are an effort to keep up with an industry that is changing

After a drubbing from the hands of the analysts, IBM has given its Tivoli systems management division a makeover. Several new products, some rebranding and a simpler approach to bundling are all aimed at making the much-criticised management software better value for users. The move, announced on Tuesday, comes in response to industry moves towards cheaper system management products that are less labour-intensive to use and offer quicker returns on investment. "Tivoli used to have the largest toolkit in the industry, with the approach that we manage anything anywhere," said Bob Madey, vice president of performance and availability products at Tivoli. However, analysts have criticised the company, with Gartner Group accusing it of "arrogance, poor infrastructure, code unreliability and lack of customer focus." On top of this, sales have been sliding since late 1999. Under the new "Business Impact Management" slogan, Tivoli is responding to these criticisms. It now claims to focus more on business impact than managing components -- but this is pretty much a standard mantra in the industry. The industry will watch closely to see how that is actually delivered. From now on, Tivoli functions will be sold in bigger pieces, built on a few core technologies that will be given away free. The various bundling and repackaging parts of the announcement seem to comprise subtle ways to reduce the price of Tivoli to users. Long-criticised for the level of service and staffing it requires, the products are being re-tooled to install quickly, reducing staff and services costs. "Most products should install within 45 minutes," said Milko van Duijl, vice president for Tivoli software, EMEA, admitting that some previous products took a week or more to get working. Despite criticism that IBM has used Tivoli to draw services money from customers, IBM staff insisted that the promise of a newer, easier Tivoli was not a worry to its services division. "This is actually an opportunity to build total business for IBM Global Services," asserted David Stokes, vice president for the IBM Software Group, EMEA. The IBM services group sat on the panel that approved the changes, and allocated the resources for the Tivoli makeover, said Madey: "They saw this as nothing but upside." Tivoli has also been brought under the company's Passport Advantage corporate discount scheme for the first time, so that users buying Lotus, Websphere or other IBM products can earn discounts on Tivoli products -- though Madey was unable specify how big a discount could be achieved at the launch. IBM will also give away for free some of the key infrastructure, shared between management applications. Tivoli Enterprise Data Warehouse, a DB2 database for management information and IBM Directory Server 4.1, an LDAP directory that manages user identities for security purposes were both announced today, and are offered free to Tivoli customers. The other shared components are a common user interface and shared Web infrastructure from WebSphere. Another free piece of software is the privacy wizard, which helps organisations define privacy policies. Tivoli Enterprise Console (TEC) -- the application management front end within Tivoli -- has been integrated with NetView, IBM's network management product. "This puts system, application and network management in one space," said Madey. "NetView is included in the base price, $40,000, for TEC.@ Within network management, Tivoli now has a Switch Analyzer product designed for auto-discovery and management of network devices at layer two. This will come up against products within HP's OpenView, and third party products from the likes of Micromuse and Smarts. Finally, IBM's Disaster Recovery and Data Protection products are being bundled together in Tivoli Storage Manager 5.1 (enterprise edition). IBM's storage division will keep hold of the Storage Tank virtualisation product, said Madey, but other aspects of storage management are firmly inside Tivoli. "With its brand tarnished by years of abuse, Tivoli has lost its best-of-breed product status in all areas except storage management," warned Gartner Group in late 2001. By tying it in more closely with successful parts of the company, it may be able to reverse that.

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