IBM announced a new version of its data center automation software Jan. 18 that takes the concept of change management to a new, software-as-a-service level.
Tivoli Provisioning Manager 5.1.1, designed specifically for large or small companies that have a catalog of products and services, aims to help users benefit from so-called “cloud computing” by aggregating tedious, repetitive work and making it available as a software service.
“We’ve taken the traditional provisioning processes and ‘wrappered’ them in a layer of technology that articulates technical work that you do to add and delete software from operating systems and servers and publishes it as services,” Chris O’Conner, IBM vice president of Tivoli strategy and market management, told eWEEK.
“[Internal] clients can use these services, which ease the amount of work that administrators have to do, once they have developed a pattern of software they want to deploy,” O’Conner said. “We can preserve those deployment patterns, and we can allow people to replicate a pattern without having to learn all the exacting steps having to do with it.”
One of the new features in TPM 5.1.1, called Web Replay, works by enabling data center experts to capture their knowledge and make it available to others.
“With Web Replay, a user can ‘record’ the mouse clicks, data insertion and other processes involved in any complex task,” O’Conner said. “Afterwards, any user with the appropriate access can run the recorded scenario.”
An example would be the process it takes to upgrade or patch an operating system-such as Windows or Linux-across a large number of servers within an enterprise data center.
These operations require a lengthy series of screen interactions which can be condensed down to a single push of a button, O’Conner said.
Consequently, experts on a subject can develop and record the actions needed to execute very complex tasks. These “recordings” can then be used and modified as needed by others for other tasks. This ensures that tasks are executed correctly and completely, every time, O’Conner said.
“This [new version] is a major improvement, and I expect this kind of thing to become standard across the board,” Andi Mann, research director with Enterprise Management Associates, told eWEEK. “This takes data center management tools to another level.”
Mann said that with new management software packages, the two most important factors in making a buying decision are ease of use and ease of implementation.
“This is all about those two things,” Mann said. “You have to write scripts in a lot of the other management software packages; this one actually embeds knowledge into the process, reduces errors and allows for better availability.”
IBM believes this extended data center automation is significant, O’Conner said, because “we see a whole set of activity in the industry around consolidation, virtualization, cost of data centers, green data centers-these are all driving the notion of ‘How and when do I change my resources on these servers?’ to a pitch with our customers today.”
TPM also dynamically provisions and allocates application resources to compensate for workload fluctuations. These fluctuations can strain specific IT resources while other systems run at less than capacity, a problem cloud computing can resolve, O’Connor said.
Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which also includes cross-platform patch support, is a key element of IBM’s Blue Cloud Initiative, which brings the formerly separate features of dynamic provisioning and resource allocation into overall data center automation.