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Ogling at numbers like the reputed $2bn Computer Associates International Inc did on CA-Unicenter – even if it doesn’t believe them – Compagnie des Machines Bull SA wants a bigger piece of the fast growing systems and network management pie and says it will put a ton of resources behind its ISM OpenMaster suite this year. First it’s dropping ISM from the product and will brand the 65-odd products in the management and security suite accordingly. It’s created a dedicated OpenMaster business unit at its Bull HN Information Systems Inc unit and has a brand new 5.0 release of OpenMaster on the runway which will ship in two phases, the first mid-March, the second by year-end. It’s going to tout the lower total cost of ownership which it says OpenMaster can deliver and try and climb into bed with the big six integrators – none of which currently resell OpenMaster. Aiming 5.0 at the high-end of the market, it also has a new workgroup and low-end version of the technology under wraps. Developed, tried and tested in the telecommunications industry, Bull says OpenMaster has no theoretical limit on the number of seats it can support, unlike other management frameworks. New technology in 5.0 includes web and Java-based management – with JavaBeans, but not Java MAPI – configuration management, LDAP support, SET and other secure transaction support, plus service level management. A big challenge will be its migration to a new, commercial object-oriented database which it will use as OpenMaster’s object repository. It’s looking at the O2 Technology database and others. OpenMaster currently uses a proprietary object repository left over from Bull’s participation in the Open Software Foundation’s ill-fated Distributed Management Environment initiative in the early nineties, which it says is now too limited for use. Around one third of the OpenMaster services are third party products, including Remedy help desk and Qualiparc asset management. Each, it claims, is integrated with all of the others. Bull claims 29,000 OpenMaster licenses sold to 1,300 customers worldwide, 30% in France, 30% in other European countries and 30% in the rest of the world. It claims to have done $150m on OpenMaster in its fiscal 1997 – its fourth quarter numbers are due mid-February. It has 500 people working on OpenMaster worldwide, around 50 of them in the US.

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CBR Staff Writer

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