In a bold – and some would argue foolhardy – move Compagnie des Machines Bull SA is jumping into the crowded systems management space by launching Open Enterprise Software Suite OESS. This is the software bundle which it already combines with hardware in its Sagister packages. The company is now going to try and sell the software bundle on its own, initially only for IBM Corp’s AIX Unix systems, then in October for Windows NT, and early next year for Hewlett-Packard Co’s HP-UX. It is geared more towards applications management than other systems management or network management, the company says. Bull claims Open Enterprise competes most closely with BMC Software Inc’s Patrol systems management suite, which it claims lacks extensive and flexible automatic actions and relies on less sophisticated agents for fault diagnosis. OESS consists of seven ‘domains of excellence’: operation monitor, administration, security, batch, database management (Oracle now, Informix and Sybase to follow) and interoperability. The operation monitor brings centralized access to all functions, with a graphic interface ‘dashboard’. Administration includes systems management itself, access rights management, billing and reporting functions. There is a software distribution tool which is said to ensure that all users have the latest software and operating system versions. Several systems equipped with OESS can be managed hierarchically, Bull claims, and failover is handled by one node taking over should another go down. But the question which Bull found it difficult to answer is exactly how it plans to handle the technical support, especially when it broadens the operating system and database support. Bull says it has drawn together 50 different point tools to produce OESS, and companies are bound to encounter problems integrating them with their own systems – though Bull argues EOSS requires no change to existing applications. The company’s services arm achieved only 4% growth last year, and open systems management is acknowledged to require considerable hand-holding and support. Indeed, Bull argues that systems management maven Computer Associates Inc is struggling to cope with the demand for support of its Unicenter suite. If our services arm can’t cope with the demand then that’s good, Bull argues, because it will mean EOSS has been a success. Of course, that’s as maybe, but this may offer little solace to a customer on the end of the phone.