ActiveBatch Gets Blackberry Functionality
Administrators have long been able to receive pages when servers go down, but now they can restart servers with their pagers. Advanced Systems Concepts Inc. has added the Blackberry line of pagers to its list of clients for the ActiveBatch Job Scheduling and Management System.
The ActiveBatch Wireless Client is a module for the management software that enables administrators to monitor systems and initiate processes from the Blackberry. ActiveBatch Job Scheduling and Management System allows users to set up calendars to initiate processes such as backups or printing, or initiate processes from remote clients.
Ben Rosenberg, CEO of Advanced Systems, says the company chose to support the Blackberry first since it was the handheld best suited for round-the-clock monitoring. "The battery life is three weeks, and it’s always on," he says. Advanced Systems supports both the pager-sized and PDA-sized Blackberries.
If a system sends out an SNMP signal, administrators can configure the system to send an e-mail to a Blackberry, alerting the administrator. The e-mail gives the administrator the option to initiate processes, such as rebooting a server, through the Blackberry. "With the Blackberry, e-mails are always actionable by you," Rosenberg says.
Rosenberg sees two advantages to system management through wireless devices. First, it obviates the need to give instructions over the phone to a less experienced operator. Second, high-level administrators who travel can keep an eye on the system. "If you’re on the road, you’re able to know if something is wrong," he says. With both advantages, administrators will be better able to guarantee uptime, with less impact on their lives.
In addition to the three levels of encryption standards on Blackberry devices, ActiveBatch provides additional security features, such as a password login to the system. This keeps random users, including thieves, from wreaking havoc on corporate systems. "Use of ActiveBatch is always secure," Rosenberg says.
ActiveBatch can manage Windows, OpenVMS and Unix-based systems with an agent on each server. The agent sends information to a central Windows console. The software integrates with the Windows Management Instrument, which also serves as a SNMP provider. ActiveBatch provides three plug-ins for remote clients: e-mail, browser and now the Blackberry.
Rosenberg says Advanced Systems is working to bring ActiveBatch to PocketPC handhelds. He says that although users can already use them with the browser-based system, the company will adapt the system to better meet the needs and limitations of the PocketPC platform.
Contact: Advanced Systems Concepts Inc., www.advsyscon.com, (201) 798-6400
SafeStone Provides iSeries Support to RSA Security
Security management provider SafeStone Technologies plc. has added iSeries 400 features to an existing partnership with RSA Security Inc. Under the enhanced agreement, SafeStone is making RSA’s SecurID authentication tool usable on an iSeries 400 platform.
Using its DetectIT Agent 400 interface, SafeStone is enabling two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires an individual to be verified twice before access is allowed to systems.
DetectIT is an offering designed by SafeStone to protect iSeries 400 exit points from unauthorized user access to confidential data, application and resources within an open-connectivity environment.
Through DetectIT, RSA’s iSeries-based users will be able to leverage software solutions for auditing, data and system management, e-business security, and application and access control for single or multiple networked iSeries 400s.
As part of its agreement with RSA, SafeStone will act as RSA’s IBM iSeries business partner, handling all sales and support responsibility for DetectIT. In this role, SafeStone, which is also an IBM partner for systems management and development, will offer DetectIT to RSA’s customers as either a standalone or fully integrated offering.
Contact: RSA Security, Inc., www.rsa.com, (781) 301-5000
SafeStone Technologies plc, www.safestone.com
Vendors Make Linux Itanium-Ready
With Intel Corp.’s May release of its 64-bit Itanium processor, Linux vendors are lining up to support the new architecture. Red Hat Inc., TurboLinux Inc., SuSE AG and Caldera International Inc. all formally released distributions for Itanium.
To coincide with the announcement, TurboLinux released its Operating System 7 for the Itanium processor. "It’s production-ready," says Thrane Jensen, product manager for Itanium. However, Jensen admits that many users will use early Itanium machines for testing and development, rather than using them in production environments yet.
Bill Claybrook, research director for Linux and open source at the Aberdeen Group, confirms that "most people are waiting for McKinley." He believes that users will wait for Intel to release McKinley—its second-generation IA-64 processor—before they integrate IA-64 into their environments. "They’re being a little bit leery of it [in] a production environment," he says. Jensen says TurboLinux is working on its McKinley version of Linux already.
Jensen says that porting Linux to the IA-64 processor had its challenges. The 64-bit nature of the processor created challenging issues for moving applications over to the new chip. "Dependencies on 32-bit create problems," he says. Some applications addressed specific 32-bit features that did not exist in Itanium. For the most part, applications could be recompiled for the chip. "In general, it’s along the same code line," he says, "but the kernel has [alot of] different stuff."
In addition to the core operating system, Jensen says many popular Linux applications are also ready for prime time. Apache and other commonly used applications are production-ready, but "ISVs are going to be doing more application development," he says.
Red Hat released its Red Hat Linux 7.1 for the Itanium processor in mid-June. Using the 2.4 kernel, Red Hat positions the new release as a platform for testing 64-bit applications ported from 32-bit and RISC machines. The distribution is also suited to enterprise server needs; it runs on up to eight processors and offers new configuration tools for BIND, Apache and printing.
At the same time, Linux vendor SuSE released an Itanium-specific distribution. SuSE Linux 7.2 for IA-64 uses six CD-ROMs to carry over 1,500 applications for the emerging platform. Like Red Hat, the company bills the package as a solution for evaluating and deploying Itanium-based servers.
Although a preview version was already available from the Caldera FTP site at ftp.caldera.com/ia64, Caldera released two new versions in May, accompanied by a public announcement. The final production version of OpenLinux Server 64 should be available late in the third quarter.
Biff Traber, senior vice president and general manager of the server business line at Caldera, says Caldera has little to lose by waiting to release a production version. Customers will look to the distribution for evaluation purposes, so a beta release meets their needs. "It’s a combination of testing, development and prototyping," he says.
The Trillian project, which initiated development of a Linux kernel for the Itanium processor, first released a kernel in February 2000, predating Itanium’s general availability by over a year. Intel was aggressive in getting prototype chips to developers to ensure a market providing hardware, remote servers and emulators to enable open source developers to have Linux ready for the release date.
The project later changed its name to the more formal-sounding IA-64 Linux Project and worked to further enhance the development of Linux on Itanium. Itanium is not the first 64-bit platform to run Linux—there were already flavors of Linux for Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Sparc processor and Compaq Computer Corp.’s Alpha. In addition to the distributors, the IA-64 Linux Project also boasted hardware vendors, Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc., VA Linux Systems Inc. and NEC Corp., as well as Intel and Swiss research laboratory CERN.
Contact: Caldera Systems Inc., www.caldera.com, (801) 765-4999
Red Hat Inc., www.redhat.com, (888) 733-4281
SuSE AG, www.suse.com, (888) 875-4689
Turbolinux Inc., www.turbolinux.com, (650) 228-5093
Terra Soft Releases Yellow Dog Linux 2.0
Terra Soft Solutions Inc. released version 2.0 of its Yellow Dog Linux, one of the few distributions for Macintosh and PowerPC.
Yellow Dog 2.0 is Terra Soft’s fifth release of the distribution optimized for server and workstation applications on Macintosh computers. Terra Soft also issues the Black Lab Linux distribution, which is targeted at clustering applications on the Mac. Although it has been some time since the last release of Yellow Dog, Dan Burcaw, CIO of Terra Soft, says its users have not been ignored. "We don’t put out updates for the sake of doing updates," he says.
Burcaw says that Yellow Dog 2.0 is not simply a kernel update, but includes a variety of new applications to reflect the changing computer world. When Yellow Dog first began making Mac-specific Linux distributions, the end result was often very different than working on an Intel-based distribution, but today there are fewer differences. "It’s the exact same experience as an x86 distribution," he says.
In addition, Terra Soft has to make a number of kernel-level enhancements to support both the PowerPC and Apple Computer Inc. hardware. The Yellow Dog distribution includes functions and modifications specific to these environments. "The ones we ship with are pretty tuned for our user base," Burcaw says.
For example, Apples have been reliant on USB since the 1997 release of the iMac, yet full USB support did not arrive until the 2.4 kernel. If a user wanted to run Linux on a Mac, he had to patch the kernel with an experimental driver, recompile the kernel on a PowerPC and then install the kernel.
Terra Soft tests and ships these needed modifications to help its users. "That’s pretty critical for a distribution that runs on an iMac," Burcaw says. Since iMacs use USB exclusively for input devices, it would be difficult to even patch and compile a kernel on a new machine.
Many users are attracted to Yellow Dog because of the PowerPC chip. Burcaw says that academic and scientific users often want to use the AltiVec engine embedded in the processor for homegrown applications. Others are interested in the raw power the processor can provide for clustering applications. In addition he says some ISPs have built their entire infrastructures around Mac servers.
IBM Corp.’s RS/6000 servers, now the pSeries, also use the PowerPC architecture, and Yellow Dog once received support from IBM engineers for adapting the distribution for the servers. Burcaw says Yellow Dog was the first distribution to support RS/6000, but IBM support has waned as Linux support has moved to a full-blown business initiative.
Because RS/6000 does not use the AltiVec engine, the high-performance applications suited to Yellow Dog are not feasible on the IBM machines. Terra Soft has no plans to further develop for the pSeries. Contact: Terra Soft Solutions Inc., www.terrasoftsolutions.com, (970) 278-9243
Aelita Offers Active Directory Recovery Tool
As Microsoft Active Directory deployments become more common a year and a half after the Windows 2000 launch, problems are inevitable.
Domain controller failures or—more likely with Windows 2000’s stability—mis-configured Active Directory objects can cause Active Directory outages for the enterprise.
Aelita Software Corp. has introduced a disaster recovery product for fixing those problems as they crop up.
Aelita’s ERDisk for Active Directory accompanies ERDisk, Aelita’s Windows NT/2000 configuration protection and recovery product. Aelita also introduced the 6.0 version of ERDisk in June.
ERDisk for Active Directory is a GUI-based tool designed to allow automated backup, remote administration and granular recovery of Active Directory.
Aelita positions the product as filling a gap between full network backups and native utilities that support only offline, local recovery using a command line interface.
ERDisk for Active Directory allows Active Directory to be restored without requiring an administrator to take the server down and boot into Directory Services Restore mode.
Allowing granular restoration of Active Directory can also help avoid replication problems that could result with an unnecessary full restore.
Its parent product, ERDisk 6.0 for Windows NT/2000 servers and workstations, provides for remote unattended repair of failed systems and recovery of unbootable computers.
On the Active Directory front, ERDisk 6.0 features Active Directory-aware "Computer Collections" that automate configuration backup.
Contact: Aelita Software Corp., www.aelita.com, (800) 263-0036
Data Junction’s Linux Integration
As Linux works its way into enterprise environments, the need for integration tools increases. To meet this need, Data Junction Corp. has adapted its Integration Engine for open-source platforms.
Integration Engine enables developers to quickly create rules for transferring data between services or databases. For example, if an enterprise uses both Oracle and MySQL databases, developers can quickly construct a system for transferring fields and schema between the databases. "There are enormous pressures to integrate everything inside the enterprise," says Mike Hoskins, president of Data Junction.
Integration Engine provides a number of development plug-ins, each tailored to a specific product. Developers evaluate their environments, then configure the plug-ins to meet the enterprise’s needs. "You can create maps and processes in a matter of hours," Hoskins says.
Linux is rapidly becoming an important platform for Data Junction, Hoskins says. Although the company’s market has traditionally centered on Windows NT systems, its Unix market has grown quickly. The company already supported Unix flavors like Solaris and HP-UX and decided Linux was a logical next step, "The Unix market is strategic for us," Hoskins says, "and Linux is another step in that direction."
"Linux has seemed to grow a lot of market share in Web servers," Hoskins says. Thinking that enterprises would want to transfer data to and from Linux machines, the company decided to support Linux.
Data Junction will introduce modules for the open-source database MySQL, the most popular database on the Linux platform. "If we were going to run on Linux, it made sense to support MySQL," Hoskins says. Data Junction is considering adding support for other open-source databases.
In addition to database-to-database data transfers, Data Junction also provides translation for XML. Users can convert database entries into XML documents and vice versa. Ironically, Microsoft may provide an opportunity for Data Junction’s Unix market; Hoskins says that _Data Junction will provide functions for integrating with Microsoft’s XML-based BizTalk server, allowing Unix machines _to talk to NT environments.
Contact: Data Junction Corp., www.datajunction.com, (512) 452-6105
IBM Reveals New Storage Networking Devices
Hoping to position itself as the dominant presence in the network attached storage (NAS) space, IBM has entered what it calls the "next phase" of a storage networking initiative it launched in February.
Big Blue is kicking off this new generation of its storage life with the release of a lineup of network attached storage devices equipped with integrative capabilities designed to help customers deal with mounds of data using the systems they already have.
IBM’s new NAS solutions come in three flavors and are intended to help store a range of data types from video streaming and e-mail to customer support, accounts receivable and payroll.
The TotalStorage NAS 200, available in both tower and rackable enclosures, is a single-processor system and supports up to 216GB of storage. IBM is positioning the offering for use in a branch office or to support a department in a large enterprise.
For mission-critical storage, IBM is touting the TotalStorage NAS 300, which is a dual-processor, redundant system. The NAS 300 also is available in an enhanced version, TotalStorage NAS 300G. The 300G has high-availability features that enable a storage area network and a local area network to be connected.
IBM’s biggest competition in the NAS area of the storage space is Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Network Appliance. By highlighting the interoperability of its NAS offerings with other IBM products, Big Blue believes it is showing customers a more attractive value proposition than Network Appliance. Since IBM already has achieved a widespread presence in e-business environments it is trying to use this advanrage to proliferate its NAS solutions among the industry.
TotalStorage NAS 200 and 300 come with IBM’s xSeries Advance Systems Management processor, which is a diagnostic tool for identifying potential problems on the network. Part of a preloaded suite of software packaged with all IBM NAS products, the systems management processor is designed to alert the IT manager when problems are detected.
Contact: IBM Corp., www.ibm.com,(800) IBM-4YOU
Tivoli Upgrades Business Systems Manager
Tivoli Systems Inc., a subsidiary of IBM Corp., has released a new version of its Business Systems Manager software, expanding its support of enterprise technologies.
Business System Manager consolidates information gathered by the Tivoli management framework into a single portal. It gives administrators a single view into system performance.
Tivoli applies business models to allow administrators to see how certain systems affect the business. "You can look at things as a business process," says Bob Mady, vice president of strategy and solutions at Tivoli.
The portal breaks down systems as a series of business processes. In the first tier of the console, administrators can see if systems are failing within various divisions within the organization, then drill down to find the specific problem. "It allows you to see the fault across a lot of different tiers," Mady says.
In addition, Business System Manager can act as a portal for administrators to access Tivoli plug-ins for managing specific systems. For example, if an administrator drills down through the portal and sees a mission-critical system is about to run out of storage, he or she can access the Tivoli Storage Manager plug-in to add storage to a partition transparently through the portal.
One of the biggest upgrades comes in the area of enterprise integration. "We’ve improved support for most of the IBM middleware," Mady says. Users can now manage application servers such as WebSphere or messaging servers like MQSeries. Mady says integration products are key to Tivoli, noting that "business integration [is] driving this."
In the past few years, Mady says, Tivoli has shifted from a technology pitch to a business pitch. With the rise of new economy models, "Technology organizations are the business," he says, "making system management critical to anyone in business, not just technical administrators."
Contact: Tivoli Systems Inc., www.tivoli.com, (800) 2-TIVOLI
Veritas Introduces Clustering Products
Veritas Corp., known for its high-availability storage products, is aiming to guarantee high availability on the server front. It has released a suite of products to manage traffic and clustering in server farms.
The Veritas Cluster Server Traffic Director analyzes traffic patterns in the front tiers of a Web farm, then assigns traffic to particular machines to guarantee performance and uptime. While most clustering products focus on back-end databases, this product offers clustering capabilities for the application and presentation layer of the server farm.
With additional products, Veritas offers an end-to-end solution for shaping traffic within the Web farm.
Veritas also has introduced a management console for its clustering products, giving administrators a view into clustered servers through the farm. The Global Cluster Manager Console manages Cluster Server Traffic Director, Cluster Server, Cluster Server QuickStart and Volume Replicator from a single point.
Finally, Veritas has introduced a product to allow administrators to set up clusters quickly. Cluster Server QuickStart installs clustering services on simple 2-node clusters.
Veritas’ cluster products serve the Windows, Solaris and HP-UX markets.
Contact: Veritas Corp., www.veritas.com, (800) 327-2232
HP OpenView Expands Service Management Suite
Hewlet-Packard Co.’s OpenView division has expanded the functionality of its Integrated Services Management Suite (ISM) to better address the needs of enterprises and service providers interested in meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs.)
ISM’s management interface is designed with an eye to meeting user demand. Administrators can break down information to see what services are used by what groups of users and how, and plan for future use of storage, servers and bandwidth.
The expansion of ISM reflects an initiative begun last year by OpenView to apply business models to its network management suite. Rather than simply showing network data, the software puts the information in a business context, showing administrators how problems affect the business.
For example, it tells administrators if a failing server is a mission-critical Web server or a secondary file-and-print machine.
In addition, the product’s use of thresholding allows administrators to set alerts that tell them when an SLA is violated or about to be violated.
ISM is a component of the OpenView management framework, supporting a variety of platforms, including HP-UX, Windows and Linux.
Contact: HP OpenView, www.openview.com, (800) 249-3294
Altiris Offers Help with Tracking Licenses
At any time, Microsoft Corp. or another software vendor can issue an enterprise a letter demanding that all software licenses be accounted for.
And finding documentation for software that may be several years old and purchased by some long-gone IT professional could be impossible.
Altiris Inc. has unveiled a product called the Altiris Licensing Toolkit, designed to help administrators get ahead of that problem.
"Lately, major software vendors, including Microsoft, have become more aggressive in auditing and enforcing software licenses," Altiris President and CEO Greg Butterfield said in a statement. "To be truly prepared for an audit, you need more than just an accurate and thorough inventory of installed software."
The Altiris toolkit is also designed to help companies make sure money isn’t being wasted on unused or underused licenses.
A software inventory component, Altiris Inventory Solution, provides data capture capability for Windows PCs and servers, allowing files to be grouped as applications or as suites.
The Altiris Application Metering Solution component measures if or how often applications are used.
Contact: Altiris Inc., www.altiris.com, (801) 805-2400
Mandrake Introduces Security Product
French Linux vendor Mandrake Soft SA has introduced a new security product and unveiled a new security strategy for small- and mid-sized businesses.
Mandrake announced its Single _Network Firewall software in June, to provide easy firewall management for Linux servers. The product is a Linux distribution with software designed to offer administrators an easily configured firewall server.
Single Network Firewall is based on the Bastille Linux project co-developed by the United States National Security Agency. Bastille Linux aims to create a highly secure Linux flavor for securing government agencies and companies against spy and hacker attacks. The distribution uses the 2.2.19 kernel, which has been extensively tested for security.
The product also contains a number of features essential for securing an enterprise. Packet filtering ensures only non-malicious packets enter the network; Proxy Squid provides proxy server functionality for network address translation and IP masking; intrusion detection alerts administrators when hackers attempt to breach the firewall; and the firewall logs network traffic. Single Network Firewall can be configured remotely through a Web-based interface.
Contact: MandrakeSoft SA, www.mandrakesoft.com, (626) 296-6290