Dell has unveiled three server management tools that let information technology managers control their hardware and Microsoft software at the same time.
The three new tools, part of Dell's OpenManage software line, integrate with similar tools from Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) so that administrators can update a server's BIOS (basic input/output systems) or firmware and apply security patches to a Microsoft application through the same screen.
Ideally, this will make the patching of systems easier and will also cut down on training time.
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"The user gets a single console view of all of the applications and servers in their environment," said Neil Hand, director of worldwide marketing in Dell's Product Group.
In customer surveys, Dell has found that "patching and upgrading systems is the most important thing they (IT managers) can do at this time for security reasons and to keep their systems up to date," Hand added.
Although a working knowledge of server management tools will likely never make anyone popular at parties, the automation of back-end computing operations has become a major obsession for both technology companies and their customers. Companies simply have far more systems performing more critical work than ever before, and the human costs of managing those systems is skyrocketing.
In the early '90s, hardware and software acquisition costs accounted for about 80 percent of technology costs, according to studies propounded by IBM. In the next few years, the human costs are set to double the costs of equipment acquisition.
Among the various management efforts to offset the trend are Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative and IBM's push of autonomic computing.
The three tools announced Tuesday are: the Dell Management Pack for MOM, which monitors the status of Dell PowerEdge servers and forwards alerts in the case of problems such as hard-drive failure; Dell Update Packages with Systems Management Server, which automates patching; and the Dell Deployment Toolkit, which lets administrators use servers in conjunction with Microsoft Automated Deployment Services.
The Management and Update packages are available now; the Deployment Toolkit will arrive by the end of the year. The tools are free.