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FIRMS WANT CLOSER NETWORK & SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT INTEGRATION

From Computer Business Review, a sister publication.

Brandan Musler, an analyst with New Hampshire-based networking technology consultants Illuminata, recently took a phone call from a frustrated information systems manager. He bawled down the phone, ‘what the **** good does it do me if I know my network is up but my application isn’t running?’ The client had neatly summed one of the big issues in network management, one which helps to explain why this function is becoming so enmeshed with other management functions.

By Graeme Burton

What users want, says Musler, are products which do not exclusively monitor their network or parts of their network, but which monitor entire business processes the way that end-users see them. Time and again in recent years, information systems managers have been putting forward a string of demands to their software suppliers: they want software which can manage the host of incompatible platforms and network protocols that exist on their network; which can pull together information from all the networking hardware, different platforms and standards they use; and which can present information in a coherent and easily understandable fashion. That means on one console, rather than the many which users often have to grapple with today. The message has not been missed by either the big network management software vendors – companies such as IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, and Sun Microsystems Inc – nor by the big system management specialists – IBM, and Computer Associates International Inc in particular. Lee Roberts, IBM’s networking division worldwide marketing manager, for example, has been telling audiences of IBM’s plans to dominate every area of the fast-growing network hardware and software arena. As proof of its commitment, he points to the $743m purchase of systems management vendor Tivoli Systems Inc last year and the work it has put in merging IBM’s long-established network management software, NetView, with Tivoli’s systems management framework. Computer Associates, the world’s third largest software company, is also busy in this area, writing more and more network management functionality into its flagship Unicenter TNG systems management platform. It is aiming for $1bn in revenues in 1997 from Unicenter and sees the improved network management as a key feature.

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Rewards justify the investment

The rewards for the winning suppliers justify the investment. The network management software market is growing at 20% a year, according to the Gartner Group, and will be worth $600m globally in 1997. That’s only a fifth of the overall systems management market, estimated at $2.5bn, but vendors such as Computer Associates and IBM-owned Tivoli, until recently only associated with system management frameworks, increasingly believe closer integration of network management software and systems management frameworks could give them an unassailable lead in the systems management market-place. In fact, there are already signs that this strategy is paying off. Systems management vendors Tivoli and Computer Associates have become major players in the network management market during the course of the last two years, setting the pace ahead of, for example, the ambitious Platinum Technology Inc, largely because both come closest to Musler’s holy grail of integrated systems and network management. Because of the complexity of the task, no single supplier is trying to do it all. IBM/Tivoli works closely with other suppliers, who can provide best of breed solutions; its certification and branding scheme has the diverse support of more than 300 vendors. Computer Associates takes a more integrated, core product approach but both companies have such a large market share that no aspiring systems management or networking management supplier can afford not to partner with either if the opportunity arises. IBM and Computer Associates dominate large scale systems management, but network management involves many suppliers from different backgrounds, and many powerful

suppliers are converging on the same hot spot of the market.


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CBR Staff Writer

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