After finding a disappointing adoption rate of 29 percent for its Intel-based server hardware management software, IBM set out to determine what users really want in a server hardware management suite. The result is a series of planned enhancements to the IBM Director designed to directly address user requirements.
IBM at the end of the month will release IBM Director Version 4.2, which focuses on extending management support to new operating system platforms, and in September IBM will release Version 5.1, a major upgrade that will enhance ease of use and simplify installation, as well as further extend the tools reach out to other hardware platforms, according to Rob Sauerwalt, IBM global brand manager for software and services in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
After extensively surveying customers about their requirements for the hardware management suite, IBM found that it needed "to focus on openness, ease of use, and integration," he said.
"They surveyed thousands of people. I found that significant," said Kelly Quinn, senior analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass. "It is a way to determine the real drivers behind how the customer uses the product and the ways they incorporate it into their overall work process. With that feedback they can create a product that fits much better into the way the work flows through a customers organization," she added.
IBM in Director Version 4.2 will add support for the Windows 64-bit operating system, VMware Inc.s VMware GSX and the latest version of VMware ESX, as well as Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0.
IBM will address integration issues with the release in June or July of an SDK (software development kit) that allows third-party tools providers to integrate their management products with the IBM Director. That would allow users to maintain their investment in existing third-party tools such as imaging products, but reduce the complexity associated with multiple management tools on different platforms and providing different user interfaces. "So if customers have already standardized on Altiris for deployment, there will be an Altiris extension to Director that does deployment," said Sauerwalt, who added that such an extension is due in September.
IBM took some core functions in the suite, including the console, a scheduler and an automation engine, and created a Remote Deployment Manager that allows third parties to exploit those functions to integrate tools such as imaging into the suite. The new Express SDK for the Remote Deployment Manager will provide programmatic interfaces for such integration. The suite also provides inventory update, resource monitoring and alerting, as well as capacity planning.
For ease of installation and use, Director 5.1 will add a new user interface option that is more in line with the familiar Windows UI and incorporate "wizards" that will reduce the number of steps required to configure the Director for functions such as image deployment.
For further hardware support, Director 5.1 will be able to manage server hardware from Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. The Director, made up of a user console, agent and management server, will for the first time in Verson 5.1 be able to "manage any IBM system from any IBM system," said Sauerwalt. "And 5.1 will ship with every server IBM builds," he added. That includes the IBM eServer zSeries, iSeries, pSeries and xSeries.
Director 5.1 will also improve integration with other management tools—specifically IBM Tivoli storage and network management. Users will be able to configure storage and networking at the same time they configure servers, with the same process.