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Tivoli Tools Provide Early Warning And Automatic Repair

Monitoring software finds system problems before it's too late

New tools from IBM's Tivoli division are aimed at helping customers predict, and in some cases automatically repair, system and application problems.

IBM Tivoli Monitoring 5.1, unveiled at Planet Tivoli last week, identifies common problems found in applications and middleware that the vendor supports. On their way are separate monitoring tools to manage IBM Lotus Domino, various Web and application servers, databases such as DB2, Oracle, and Informix; business-integration software, including WebSphere MQ and IBM WebSphere MQ Integrator; and apps such as those from SAP and Siebel Systems.

Tivoli will use specialized applications to feed performance data into Tivoli Enterprise Data Warehouse. The latest release also monitors system environments. For example, if the CPU or memory usage is too high, it automatically makes the adjustments before performance degrades or the system crashes.

"Pressure to cut maintenance and operating costs will encourage adoption," says Jim Kennedy, the Internal Revenue Service's program manager for enterprise-systems tools. "You're going to have to be careful about what you allow the system to automatically fix and what you need to send a tech to fix." He's comfortable letting the software delete log files that are growing too rapidly and threatening storage space, he says, but doesn't want it to handle complex application-performance issues on its own.

Still, the new offerings are a welcome improvement. Many of Tivoli's applications have been troublesome in the past, Kennedy says, though he's noticed an improvement this year. Previously, "there was no functionality out of the box. You had to work to deploy monitors," he says. In the past, if he wanted to monitor disk, CPU, and memory utilizations, Kennedy had to send the data from each monitor to a server to be correlated. "Now you can deploy these almost immediately," he says.

Customers also will be able to establish more tolerable thresholds and filter through the flood of system alerts to focus on real problems. Tivoli will focus on delivering more responsive management applications, possibly by fall.

Web-services adoption will make distributed computing architectures become more complex, requiring solid management tools, says Illuminata analyst James Governor: "Because of its experience with WebSphere, Tivoli is better-positioned than competitors to solve Web-services management issues."

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