IBM to increase Tivoli's on-demand role

Tivoli is the steering wheel for IBM's on-demand initiative, and Big Blue has just started to rev its engines.

IBM is expected to make a number of additions to its Tivoli line of management software within the next few months, as the computer giant's on-demand strategy shifts into gear.

Though the company's been short on specifics, an IBM executive recently confirmed that Tivoli's automation capabilities will play an increasingly important role in IBM's storage hardware and software product development.

IBM sees the management capabilities that Tivoli can provide as the core of its on-demand strategy, according to industry analysts.

Eric Stouffer, IBM Tivoli on-demand program manager, said the goal is to automate as much of the management process as possible.

"Tivoli is the core of IBM's on-demand strategy," Stouffer said. "But it's not the only thing. It's also about automating the business process, and that's a real Web services play. Together they make up the total story."

"Management is the steering wheel for on-demand," said Mary Turner, an analyst with the Boston-based Summit Strategies and author of a new report on IBM Tivoli. "And Tivoli is all about management. If you believe on-demand is about automation, the automation platform is Tivoli -- at least in terms of tying and coordinating all pieces of the elements together."

But IBM still has to sell the vision to more than just its top layer of enterprise customers, she said, adding that, once it does, IBM is likely to lock them in for life.

IBM is giving users more control levers to implement on-demand into their infrastructures. Will they take advantage of on-demand computing or keep running silos?

"The deployment costs are so much lower that, eventually, they will have to," Turner said. "If IT is going to continue to be a business value instead of a cost sinkhole, they need to move with these on-demand technologies. It becomes a competitive issue."

In October, IBM released a slew of Project Symphony and Tivoli management product announcements designed to make customers understand that IBM's on-demand solutions can be deployed several ways -- as internally owned and operated solutions, as outsourced services, or as hybrids.

Project Symphony introduced the concept of "orchestration" and a new class of automated infrastructure management capabilities under the Tivoli brand name.

At the center of the announcement was the Tivoli Autonomic Monitoring Engine, which captures, analyzes and correlates key metrics to automatically detect resource outages and potential problems before they affect system performance or the end-user experience. The monitoring engine has embedded self-healing technology to allow systems to automatically recover from critical situations.

The Tivoli Autonomic Monitoring Engine allows ISVs to develop applications out of the box -- another example of how determined IBM is to embed Tivoli into on-demand products, analysts say. With support for any platform, IBM partners are able to use the software to link their products to IBM Tivoli Monitoring and to other autonomic IBM products later this year.

These additional offerings have clearly put IBM at the forefront of an industry push to provide users with computers that essentially monitor themselves, experts say. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. have on-demand initiatives, both of which include autonomic computing as a major component. Microsoft is also now part of the fray, having introduced in September is own autonomic plan, Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI).

Stouffer said that, in addition to adding more management tools to IBM storage hardware and software, he expects IBM this year will introduce hardware products that include advanced autonomic technologies such as Intelligent Orchestrator, a tool based on the provisioning technology IBM acquired when it purchased ThinkDynamics Inc. in May.

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