The new world of computing has not been particularly kind thus far to the historical management vendors. It's not that virtulization and cloud computing in their various--and often ambiguous guises--have made past styles of computing irrelevant. COBOL programs still underlay lots of important business processes, after all.
But newer approaches to computing--often characterized by ground-up and tactical solutions to IT concerns--have tended to trump the sort of big, architected, expensive paths to nirvana that the likes of enterprise management have tended to take.
The fact is that the likes of CA Unicenter, HP OpenView, and IBM Tivoli may not have been a part of computing over the past five years or so--but they haven't exactly been on top of the exciting new action, either.
This is a context that makes IBM's Dynamic Infrastructure news, coming out of its Pulse conference in Las Vegas, worthy of more than passing mention.
Tivoli is, broadly, IBM's management software assets within its broader software group. IBM breaks Tivoli software into a variety of categories such as asset management; business application management; security management; server, network, and device management; service management; service provider solutions; and solutions for growing medium businesses.
The announcements IBM made at Pulse touch on a variety of areas--including storage. However, what I find most strategically notable are those related to service management. These include:
- IBM service management software and services from IBM Global Business Services, IBM Global Technology Services, and specialized IBM Business Partner capabilities. Together, they enable organizations to design and implement IT systems that centrally manage and monitor an entire industry infrastructure, enabling greater performance of both traditional assets, such as manufacturing robotic equipment, as well as emerging technologies like "smart meters" and RFID (radio frequency identification).
- A new governance-consulting practice. Through the practice, IBM works with clients to design governance systems to help mitigate risks related to business changes, changing market conditions, and regulatory requirements.
- New Tivoli Service Automation Manager software, which automates the design, deployment, and management of services such as middleware, applications, hardware, and networks, tasks that today are largely done manually and thus are subject to error, time constraints, and other human limitations.
- New Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager software, which helps organizations simplify the life cycle of encryption keys by enabling them to centralize, automate, and strengthen security through key management processes, with an increasing number of IT infrastructure elements having built in encryption to protect them.
What most struck me about these announcements is the way that they intersect with other discussions that I've had with IBM of late related to System Z (i.e., IBM mainframes) and cloud computing.
On the System Z front, IBM's Karl Freund and Joe Castano recently walked me through a road map discussion that was fundamentally concerned with issues such as how to deal with "composite" applications that run across multiple platforms (including, but not limited to, System Z) and how to simplify hybrid transactions in such an environment. From my perspective, this sounds a lot like past System Z initiatives related to being the "hub" of the digital enterprise.
But this has a much more explicit management--which is to say Tivoli--focus.
More broadly, I also had the opportunity last week to hear Erich Clementi and Chris O'Connor walk me though IBM's new cloud-computing organization.
Clementi and O'Connor presented what my colleague Jonathan Eunice described as a "very heavyweight, enterprisey view of cloud." Put another way, my take was that this was really about how IBM will help the enterprise implement a version 2.0 of SOA (service-oriented architecture): lots of IBM Global Services (IGS) and lots of Tivoli management goodness.
There is nothing wrong with any of this. But it's a view of the cloud through the top-down lens of an enterprise-architected Tivoli and IGS approach, rather than the bottom-up, tactical, always-in-beta methodology that's been most associated with the consumer cloud.