NetIQ chose the Microsoft Management Summit after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus as the venue for its App Manager 7 launch, vying for attention with Microsoft as it releases its Microsoft Operations Manager 2007 systems management offering. NetIQ, acquired by Attachmate in June, chose to answer demands from its customer base for improved security and IT-administrator productivity, as well as increased visibility for services, according to Chris Pick, vice president of products and marketing at NetIQ, in Houston.
"Customers tell us, Be best of breed, provide better automation and extend it across the dynamic IT environment," Pick said. "As customers become more advanced in the application of that, it is where they need better IT productivity, visibility that they share with the users, and it is important that they show return on their investment."
On the productivity front, NetIQ automated deployment of agents used to monitor the health of managed servers, eliminating the manual installation and upgrading of those agents.
"We added new features that allow us to schedule and deploy agents in a much more automated fashion," said Pick.
NetIQ, which claims to have an installed base of 6,400 App Manager customers, also automated the detection of operating systems and applications within virtualized environments.
In another productivity-boosting effort, NetIQ made policy exception management more flexible to better serve unique customer requirements.
"Every enterprise has their own requirements to do monitoring and management. For Microsoft Web applications access versus Siebel [Web access], both use IIS [Internet Information Services] servers but require different policies and different monitoring. We tailor exception management so that applications can have granular exceptions in the way they are managed. Its not one size fits all," explained Pick.
NetIQ, in better securing App Manager, allowed operators to delegate control over "who sees what and which actions can be taken," said Pick.
Rule-based management groups can be dynamically updated in Release 7.
Although Pick asserted that such enhancements put NetIQ "two years ahead of Microsoft," not everyone agreed with that assessment.
"I think they are catching up, but theyre not blowing away the competition," said Rich Ptak, principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "What theyre doing is necessary, but they are not at the cutting edge in their implementation."
Yet the new release will help NetIQ retain its installed base, said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC. "It will provide some insulation for their customer base against folks looking to replace them," he said.
After its two-and-a-half-year break from a major release, NetIQ plans to keep up the development drumbeat.
In June, NetIQ will introduce a new IT runbook automation tool, and it will delegate more App Manager functions to other stakeholders.
Looking ahead, the App Manager Suite road map calls for a new module builder to speed the development of new functional modules. Future plans also envision new dynamic discovery and adaptation to changes in a virtual environment.
App Manager 7 is available now and starts at $600 per managed Windows server.