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IBM Tools Automate IT Processes

eLiza initiative includes software and services
IBM is introducing a slew of new tools and services designed to automate IT processes so that companies can concentrate on what's most important: their business.

Under the umbrella of its eLiza research initiative, which links intracompany efforts related to IT automation, IBM last week rolled out new software from its Tivoli group, revealed a number of partnerships designed to bolster eLiza activities, and formally introduced its E-Business Management Services offering. This last item is a suite of technologies and services that lets executives define and monitor the performance of key systems from their desktops.

"Customers have told us that their technology use is increasing, and along with that, the cost and complexity continue to rise," says Greg Burke, director of eLiza.

The new Tivoli products are designed to help IT managers deal with complexity while at the same time ensuring system security--a must-have at a time when data protection is top of mind for most companies. The new Tivoli Identity Director application manages user information, such as logon identities, across an entire infrastructure chain, letting IT managers centralize and automate the monitoring of such data.

The software also will work in concert with Tivoli Policy Director to control user access to specific applications. Meanwhile, the recently introduced Tivoli Intrusion Manager will watch for hacking attempts, threats, and other security exposures across a number of systems.

Beyond software that monitors specific systems, IBM last week introduced a service designed to give executives the big picture when it comes to overall infrastructure performance. E-Business Management Services--a combined software and services package--lets users define performance levels for key business processes and ensures that those levels are met, regardless of interruptions such as a server malfunction or an entire site going offline.

Among other things, the service uses new patented technology that IBM calls Active Middleware Information Technology. The technology matches IT resource availability with business requirements to ensure that performance levels are met. "What differentiates this from existing monitoring technology is that it starts with the business objective and then identifies any performance degradation that might affect that," says Mike Errity, a segment executive at IBM Global Services.

Observers say that approach makes sense. "You can have all the technology in the world, but it isn't worth anything if it doesn't support the business goals of an organization," says Jim Casell, a group VP at Gartner Dataquest.

IBM also revealed last week that it's working with a number of users to test and further develop products that fall under the eLiza initiative. Among them are Danske Bank, Merrill Lynch, and portal and Internet service provider Terra Lycos, which is testing many of the new technologies on IBM zSeries and pSeries servers. Terra Lycos pushes content out to servers physically maintained by caching service provider Akamai Technologies Inc.; it's using the eLiza technology to monitor performance at those remote sites.

Tim Wright, chief technology officer and CIO at Terra Lycos, says he likes the direction IBM is taking. "What's attractive about the eLiza technology is that it will enable me to manage a global network without having to have people on location at each site," he says. But Wright admits that, at times, he has difficulty determining what exactly is new about some of the eLiza initiatives: "A lot of this seems to draw on technology they already had in place."

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