Management Tools Get Pushed by Online Demands

E-commerce demands are driving infrastructure upgrades that support around-the-clock availability deeper into corporate networks. Vendors of system and application management products are responding by beefing up management tools while reducing the complexity of handling the management tools.

In separate announcements, BMC Software Inc. (www.bmc.com) and Mission Critical Software Inc. (www.missioncritical.com) unveiled upgrades to their system management tools, with new capabilities focused on easing the administration of large numbers of Windows NT systems.

Mission Critical, known for its OnePoint domain management and migration suite, completely rewrote its Event Manager 2.61 product. The new version carries both a new release number and a new name: Operations Manager 3.0.

Kent Erickson, director of product management at Mission Critical, cites one of the highest-priority design goals as the elimination of the management overhead required to manage Operations Manager. The product uses a three-tier design through which a central data structure of rules is maintained on a single machine and agents are deployed with an appropriate subset of the knowledgebase on each monitored machine. Operations Manager automatically finds the network machines and installs agents along with rule sets appropriate for the configuration of the system, without user prompting. The feature either will be loved or totally distrusted by system managers.

Once installed, the agent processes events locally and --based on the rules being used -- only forwards copies of messages important enough to warrant the attention of a system administrator. This technique, Erickson says, consolidates traffic and limits system and network overhead. Users don’t need to build the rules from scratch, instead they can use or build on top of 18 knowledge modules that ship with the product.

The new product offers the ability to port the existing rules that users have created into the new data structure. The upgrade to Operations Manager is a no charge upgrade for existing customers. The company’s existing Event Manager install base is relatively small -- about 250 customers

This week BMC Software is expected to announce an upgraded version of its Patrol suite that offers improved availability features and Web monitoring and testing extensions, backed up by a new professional services offering. "We’re driving home our main theme of high availability, high performance and recoverability across the enterprise," explains Greg Fitzgerald, e-business strategist at BMC.

The BMC upgrade will include a set of new agents, with an expected delivery during the first quarter of 2000, that are designed to manage Web application environments. Other new management agents are available for Web infrastructure systems, such as firewalls. Initial support is expected for Axent and CheckPoint systems, with new security products to follow.

While some of the new agents extend existing BMC technology to new platforms, the company broke new ground with its Patrol family when it announced its Java Applet Response Time Analyzer, or JARTA. The new product performs Web site analysis and includes an HTTP decoder that identifies streams that might be bandwidth hogs. The JARTA suite also includes an updated version of an old product, the Web server management suite. New to the Web server management suite are agents for managing Microsoft Site Server, Commerce Edition; IBM WebSphere and Net.Commerce; Netscape Application Server; and several other Web application environments. JARTA enters beta testing next month and is expected to become available early next year.