IBM is planning to bundle a cut down version of Tivoli's IT Director with its Intel-based Netfinity servers.
The systems management software, dubbed Netfinity Director, combines the core code of the mid-market IT Director, "with some modules turned off," with some functions of Netfinity Manger, a source close to Tivoli, told VNU Newswire.
The move should help the market penetration of Tivoli's IT Director which has not proved an overwhelming success since the mid-market targeted product was launched a year ago.
No shipping date has been set, as the vendor is still waiting for certification for the next incarnation of the 32-bit Windows operating system Windows 2000. IBM is aiming to launch the bundle at the same time as the Microsoft launch. Microsoft hopes to launch Windows 2000 at Comdex in Las Vegas in November.
Netfinity Director will also manage Intel servers running non-Microsoft operating systems like Novel Netware and SCO Unixware and complementary products like APC's un-interoperable power supplies.
IBM Intel server customers will be able to buy a software key to activate the inoperative modules that will turn Netfinity Director into full blown IT Director. These modules include software distribution, SMP management and application management. "It's a relatively easy upgrade," confirmed the source, who asked not to be named.
Elements that are exclusive to Netfinity Director (not in the IT Director) include Raid manager, cluster manager, capacity and performance manager advanced system manager, system support, and update connect, which allows customers to download upgrades to Bios from the Web.
IBM's Intel server group insists that it is the free systems management and support it offers that differentiates its products from those of other Intel OEMs, like Dell, which offer similar hardware at lower price points.
According to sources close to Netfinty, there are no plans to make Netfinity Director available to IBM's OEM's like Dell or Tivoli's OEMs like Compaq. Tivoli has maintained strong relationships with its hardware partners, particularly those who resell its high-end Tivoli Enterprise (formally TME10) by keeping its independence from its parent, IBM. Time will tell whether this apparently exclusive deal with IBM will sour relations with IBM's rivals or the Tivoli's IT Director channel.
Martin Hingley, senior research director at IDC said: "I'd be very surprised if Tivoli would preclude the opportunity to stick something like this on other vendors machines. Unless there was something in proprietary in the offering like IBM cluster management that wouldn't work with a Compaq machine."
Hingley questioned whether smaller users understand systems management: "My worry with system management software (as with the X architecture hardware enhancements announced earlier this year), particularly in the small and medium sized businesses, is that whilst I think all business would benefit from it, they just don't seem to understand what its for. Are IBM convinced that most of their customers really want all this extra functionality - does it really make any difference?"
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