Tivoli Gears Up for Service Provider Battle

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2001-03-05

Tivoli Systems Inc. is hoping a revamped strategy and a short list of new customers will put some much-needed momentum behind its service provider initiative. The IBM unit, which saw a slip in revenue growth in the fourth quarter, last week touted several new service providers among its customers as the company expanded its reach to MSPs (management service providers) and application and security service providers.

According to Tivoli officials, a newly formed unit within the company, dubbed the Net Generation Management Solutions group, has signed up 65 such service providers to date.

But as the Austin, Texas, company makes headway, it faces increasing pressure from competitors such as Computer Associates International Inc. and BMC Software Inc., both of which have had formal programs in place for months specifically targeting service providers.

"They are so late to the game," said Corey Ferengul, senior program director at Meta Group Inc. in Chicago. "When I talk to service providers, they already own MicroMuse of [Hewlett-Packard Co.s] OpenView."

Among the new service providers working with Tivoli is Pacific Information Systems Inc. The Portland, Ore., VAR will provide a range of monitoring and management services. The service will use Tivoli software for monitoring.

"Theyre a lot better than the others—their professionalism is better, and their teams are very knowledgeable," said Jacob Lee, CEO and founder of Pacific, which had been a CA Unicenter reseller. Lee chose not to use the CA software in his companys new service, which will go live April 1, because he said the software and support for it were lacking.

Still, Lee has concerns about Tivolis stability. Reports of high turnover have plagued the management software organization, which IBM has drawn tighter under its wing. "I am [concerned], but thats typical in this business. Tivoli sold their help desk module. That was a big surprise," said Lee, referring to the sale of Tivolis help desk software to Peregrine Systems Inc., in San Diego, earlier this year.

Tivoli has been working with MSPs without a formal program or unit structured to meet their unique requirements. TriActive Inc., also of Austin, last May launched a desktop management service that uses Tivoli software. TriActive, which now counts 27 customers, is preparing to launch a channel program to extend the reach of its service offering, according to Glyn Meek, president and CEO.

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