Exchange Management Tools Proliferating

A handful of application management providers are beefing up their support for Microsoft Exchange server management.

With Exchange taking center stage this week in Orlando, Fla., at the Microsoft Exchange Conference, rivals Tivoli Systems and BMC Software Inc. both announced new versions of their Exchange-focused management offerings.

But others such as Computer Associates International Inc. and NetIQ Corp. are also focusing their attention on the widely used messaging server--for several reasons.

"E-mail has become a mission-critical business application. The installed base is very large," said Rich Ptak, senior vice president at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass. "To not have the ability to manage and do moves/adds/changes is a critical handicap," he added.

At the same time, management tools providers—especially enterprise management systems providers—are continuing to focus on application-specific offerings rather than broad management frameworks, said Paul Mason, group vice president of infrastructure software at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

"When people look for rapid [return on investment], they look to solve specific problems. Exchange is becoming involved enough that people want to make sure its running right. Mail is visible to a lot of people – they rely on messaging," he said.

To better resolve performance issues with Exchange, Tivoli in its Tivoli Management Solution for Exchange 1.1 rewrote the management tool around a new resource model that allows the software to appropriately weight statistics and avoid sending false alerts by taking an average of utilization spikes and adjust thresholds on the fly, according to Rodney Forman, portfolio product manager at Tivoli in Austin, Texas.

At the same time, Tivoli added a new, easier-to-implement rules engine that allows users to automate corrective actions based on correlated data such as CPU utilization, memory pool size and other parameters. The monitoring tool can also be used to watch for specific activity that could indicate hacker attacks, and rules can be created to automate functions that allow Exchange servers to be managed more cost-effectively.

Tivoli also extended the resource manager to two other new tools for managing Microsoft Active Directory and SQL Server. All three will be available by mid-October.

Rival BMC, meanwhile, added or enhanced its own set of Exchange management tools. The Houston-based management software provider added a new offering designed to monitor and manage the backup and recovery of Exchange 2000 servers. The Patrol Recovery for Microsoft Exchange Server tool is due at the end of the month.

BMC also enhanced its Patrol for Microsoft Exchange Servers performance management tool and Control SA access management tool, which allows Exchange administrators to view each users access rights.