Compaq Works to Bring WBEM to Life

The Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) initiative to integrate current management technology with the latest advances in Web technology, spearheaded by Microsoft Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp., is beginning to reach fruition. Compaq, in fact, is currently at work on its first tangible contribution: Insight Manager XE. Insight Manager is not an entirely new product, but XE is the first edition to conform to WBEM specifications.

Insight Manager XE is now in the managed availability phase, which means 50 customers will test it at first, and then it will be released to 4,000 sites before becoming generally available, at no charge, early next year. "It’s a new product, so we want to make sure we’ve got all the interfaces and make it perfect before unleashing it with the 150,000 servers we ship each quarter," says Craig Moore, group product manager, management solutions business unit, Compaq.

New to this version are the Compaq Management Agents. This feature allows network managers to browse through Compaq systems equipped with the Insight Manager XE software for real-time system, subsystem and component information and status. Insight Manager also enables administrators to manage Compaq machines from anywhere on the intranet. "The original intent of WBEM is to be able to read management info via the browser interface," says Philip Mendoza, systems management software analyst, International Data Corp. (IDC, Framingham, Mass.).

Although Insight Manager is a WBEM product, it is available only with Compaq servers, and enables the management of only Compaq servers. For intranets consisting of servers from a variety of vendors, just the Compaq servers with Insight Manager will be accessible. "Insight Manager is not designed to compete with other management products, such as Intel’s LANDesk," says Mendoza. "Competing with LANDesk is not the future of Insight Manager; hardware health information and software status are."

While it is not intended to compete with other network management packages, Insight Manager is built to work with other applications. "Insight Manager is an open standard, so new systems management apps can be built to broaden the scope of what can be done with the product," says Compaq’s Moore.

However, in building Insight Manager as an open standard, Compaq doesn’t plan to begin selling it to other hardware vendors for use on rival machines. "Compaq doesn’t want to be a software company, so they’re going into this with a hardware attitude," says Jon Oltsik, senior analyst, Forrester Research (Cambridge, Mass.).

Insight Manager will likely be one of the earliest WBEM products to come to market, but others will follow before long. If the initiative continues the way it’s been going thus far, products such as Insight Manager will only be a part of the WBEM puzzle. "The WBEM initiative in the future might make any WBEM-compatible management console able to read servers from various manufacturers, but that’s down the road," says IDC’s Mendoza.

Also down the road, WBEM will be a feature of Windows NT 5.0. "Microsoft plans to make the Windows NT-based infrastructure WBEM-compliant in order to help our customers address their enterprise management challenges," according to Frank Artale, general manager of enterprise and systems management at Microsoft.

But WBEM is just one of the new features that will be in NT 5.0. "WBEM is another attractive feature, another buying criteria, but it won’t drive sales of NT 5.0 by any means," says Forrester’s Oltsik.