In the marketing wars of On Demand or Utility Computing, IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Computer Associates International Inc. and others look to poke holes in each others positioning while advancing their own initiatives.
At the centerpiece of each of those vendors strategies is management software to monitor, measure and dynamically control IT computing resources. Robert LeBlanc, IBMs Tivoli general manager in Austin, Texas, recently laid out his vision of where Tivoli management software fits in IBMs strategy and sought to dispel competitors charges that IBMs initiative is only aimed at IBM platforms.
Prior to IBMs autonomic computing initiative, Tivoli had started down the road to gaining an understanding of the impact that IT resources have on the business with its Tivoli Business Systems Manager, which relates IT resources back to the applications they support.
LeBlanc spoke with eWEEK Senior Editor Paula Musich about the ongoing initiative.
eWEEK: What is the origin of IBMs autonomic computing initiative?
LeBlanc: “We found in talking to our customers that a very high percentage of what they do when there is a problem is very procedural. We started to introduce automation capability into our new monitoring product with a new architecture that lets customers automate the action they were taking. We helped the system heal itself. Now were trying to get to the point where the environment can dynamically adapt to whats going on in the business. Thats why we acquired Think Dynamics.”
eWEEK: What problem does the Think Dynamics software try to solve?
LeBlanc: “One customer said its like building a church for Easter Sunday. They have to over-provision. Wouldnt it be nice if we could take a server and make sure it has the right software and connectivity to handle an increased workload. Then when the workload diminishes, we can take that server and put it back into a pool so that server can be an application server, HR server, accounting server, and so on.”
eWEEK: What other acquisitions have been put under the Tivoli brand as part of the On Demand Computing initiative?
LeBlanc: “The other part thats important is identity management – how to manage access to resources, passwords and so on. We acquired Access 360 to do identity provisioning. Today we may use five applications, three IDs and multiple passwords. If you have a rule that says as a reporter, I know all the things you need to do your job, so I can give you one password to access what you need. Access 360 gives you the ability to provision these IDs so you dont have to move all these ID files around. The third acquisition we did is TrelliSoft storage resource management. It automates storage performance (management). If you know a storage device is getting 80 percent of the requests, you may want to move data to optimize I/O paths. Or you can scan storage systems every night, see that users are storing MP3 files that take up a lot of space, delete those files and automatically send an email to the employee (responsible) warning them not to do that.”
eWEEK: Some of your competitors—notably CA at their CA World users conference last week—say that IBMs On Demand Strategy is all futures and has no shipping products today. Is that true?
LeBlanc: “Think of (CAs just announced) Sonar as business impact management. Weve had that (Tivoli Business Systems Manager) product in the market for two years. (CA) remapped some of their products and declared them On Demand. Our resource monitoring products are brand new technologies. Were not just repositioning our products. Were bringing brand new products to market. Well have new Think Dynamic products in the near future. When we announced the acquisition, we said within a quarter or two well come out with new products and a roadmap. We dont want to sell vision. We want customer validation.”
eWEEK: So what Tivoli software is available today that supports the strategy?
LeBlanc: “Tivoli Monitoring 5.1 has an automation engine and its in the field. Our event console and NetView carry event correlation capabilities. Tivoli Business Systems Manager maps IT resources to the business process. Thats out today. Tivoli Storage Resource Manager manages storage resources and automates backup and recovery. Identity Manager and Access Manager for ID provisioning are out. We have a broad base of capability to do elemental provisioning. Think Dynamics, with the ability to control how resources relate to each other, is coming out soon. Customers can implement at a rate that makes sense for their business.
eWEEK: Is Think Dynamics software being integrated with other Tivoli software?
LeBlanc: “Yes, and other IBM software as well. IGS is using it. Our systems group will use it for their Universal Management integration platform. It will be delivered in multiple ways.”
eWEEK: How far along are those integration efforts?
LeBlanc: “We didnt just put an IBM logo on (Think Dynamics software) because we wanted to do that integration. You will see some level of integration later this year. One of the criteria for buying (technology) is how quickly we can integrate.”
eWEEK: What software functionality is still missing?
LeBlanc: “We just have to deliver on orchestration and dynamic provisioning. And there are technologies I still need from IBM, but none that are glaring.”
eWEEK: How dependent is the strategy on IBM Global Services today? Will that diminish in the future?
LeBlanc: “Global Service is part of the strategy, but customers can implement On Demand without them. If a customer wants to pull in piece parts and do it themselves, they can, or they can have IBM do the implementation for them, or do it through a hosting service. We are using the technology to build out our sourcing capabilities. Ultimately some customers will want to do it themselves, some may just want to buy the service. Its our intent to allow that level of flexibility.”
eWEEK: Isnt the promise of IBMs initiative dependent on an all IBM hardware environment?
LeBlanc: “No. Unlike some of our competitors, a lot of it gets done in Tivoli because we are a cross platform provider. Ill be able to provision IBM and non-IBM hardware. Some of the base capability is already provided by the hardware supplier. Well exploit that. HP and (its utility data center) is rip and replace. Thats not our strategy. We will let customers leverage what they have. We could take Think Dynamics capabilities and put them down into the hardware layer.”