Conceived as an open, shared environment for academics and scientists, Unix was not designed with the goal of running commercial businesses in mind. Nevertheless, it has become established as the only real alternative for organisations seeking to avoid or escape proprietary, single-vendor systems. Features and functions enabling commercial data processing across distributed systems are or […]
Conceived as an open, shared environment for academics and scientists, Unix was not designed with the goal of running commercial businesses in mind. Nevertheless, it has become established as the only real alternative for organisations seeking to avoid or escape proprietary, single-vendor systems. Features and functions enabling commercial data processing across distributed systems are or have been added, while holes and voids in the system have been plugged and patched. Apart from basic, but effective system administration facilities, Unix has lacked a proper mechanism for managing the overall application environment as a single entity. While the benefits and opportunities presented by distributing tasks and applications across high-performance, inexpensive Unix processors are being realised across the industry, commercial users expect well-proven systems management utilities such as Digital Equipment Corp’s Enterprise Management Architecture and proprietary systems from the likes of IBM Corp. Tivoli Systems Inc, based in Austin, Texas, has a growing band of acolytes supporting its effort to bring a framework for distributed systems management to Unix. Tivoli’s boss, ex-IBMer Frank Moss, believes that in many organisations up to 40% of the cost of owning Unix kit can be attributed to managing systems that are distributed across networks.
While technological advances and competition are driving hardware, operating system and application software prices down, systems management costs are rising, he says. Tivoli’s aim is to cut the cost and complexity of managing heterogeneous distributed environments which include Unix systems and personal computers. Systems management is the disease for which we have the cure, he believes. As well as a basic management framework, a variety of applications are required to suit different commercial environments, including change and configuration management, security management, inventory monitoring and analysis, client-server application management and operations management. To get independent software vendors interested in its technology, Tivoli first had to get a system management framework and basic services established for applications to reside on. The Tivoli Management Environment, TME, includes Tivoli/Works – a framework and installation facility, administrator facilities and services. There are add-in applications for software distribution, system monitoring and configuration and change management for file systems – known respectively as Courier, Sentry and FSM – plus an application development environment and extension facility toolkits. The technology has already been picked up in one form or another by many sections of the Unix vendor community. Tivoli was chosen to provide the framework for the Open Software Foundation’s Distributed Management Environment – which will provide another application development environment to the industry when it comes on stream – has Unix System Laboratories Inc, SunSoft Inc and others backing it too. TME is already available under SunSoft Inc Solaris and Hewlett-Packard Co HP-UX operating systems. Versions for Unix System V.4 and IBM AIX are due this year. A Microsoft Corp Windows NT version is almost ready while Tivoli investor, mainframe system management software house Legent Corp will take the technology into the MVS world. Although most of these implementations will be layered on top of the operating systems, Moss believes users will turn to Tivoli for systems and applications. If the Unix suppliers are able to agree on a consistent systems management application programming interface – and each also uses a similar implementation of the Object Management Group’s Common Object Request Broker Architecture – Corba – independent software vendors would be able to offer binary system management applications running across a variety of machines. Vendors need a more intimate relationship than they’re getting in Corba, to get this together, believes Moss.
By William Fellows
One way would be for the Common Open Software Environment
firms, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc, Santa Cruz Operation Inc, Unix System Laboratories Inc and the Open Software Foundation – plus arbiter X/Open Co Ltd – to endorse an Application Programming Interface that Tivoli has already offered up for their use. Providing a fast path to systems management, wouldn’t be the only benefit to Tivoli – TME Inside would undoubtedly prove a powerful marketing tool. The goal of Tivoli’s own united framework theory is to realise a consistent graphical user interface, application portability and intermanageability across emerging Unix systems management systems such as Unix Labs’s Distributed Management system, SunSoft’s Distributed Objects Everywhere and OSF DME. Moss favours COSE establishing a combined superset of Object Management Group standards plus the Tivoli Application Programming Interface that could be quickly implemented by its adherents. Moss says Tivoli could have TME source re-written in the Corba IDL language within six months and says there is only around 5% difference between the object technologies in the Open Software Foundation, SunSoft and Unix Labs systems. Tivoli will offer TME Application Programming Interfaces that comply with whatever COSE comes up with in the way of systems management. Once systems management technologies start coming on stream, operating system suppliers are expected to begin integrating system management programming interfaces into existing and future, object-oriented versions of their executives. Moss says independent software vendors don’t need to wait for Unix suppliers to release integrated offerings to begin application development and conversion work – if they develop to TME now, applications should move across to integrated operating systems almost intact, he claims. Ideally, Moss would like the open system vendors to go one step further and take over development of Tivoli’s distributed management framework entirely – because they should be doing the standards and API work. However, with the current uncertainty over COSE’s plans and all the systems management and other options being considered by various open systems bodies, it is no time to bow out now, says Moss so Tivoli will continue to develop the framework alongside systems for now. On current form, Moss thinks the transfer of development responsibility for its framework technology to the vendor community is at least two years off. Although Tivoli has the open systems distributed management market pretty much to itself, Moss knows that the providing a standard to the industry cannot generate a revenue stream much further into the future. Indeed he does not expect the firm to derive any long-term revenues from object services, common management services or common interface layers. His plan is to establish the Tivoli framework as a standard technology by licensing and creating Application Programming Interfaces – for as many vendors as possible and attract others to create a systems management application market on top. Once the standards and interface issues have been ironed out, Tivoli will concentrate on developing applications for configuration and change management, security management and inventory monitoring and analysis.
More than happy
In addition, Moss expects to form third party relationships with firms doing things like client-server application management tools, data centre management packages and operations management systems: niche markets he will leave to others. He says several start-ups – plus some established firms – are expected to follow in the footsteps of Canadian firm Open Vision and begin developing for and on the Tivoli framework. Moss says he has negotiated with the unnamed firms to ensure they won’t be duplicating each others’ efforts. The Unix systems management market is thought to be worth some $40m now – its xpected to top $1,000m by 1997-98. Moss says he’ll be more than happy if Tivoli can take 50% of an enlarged market. Last year saw half of privately-held Tivoli’s revenues come from Tivoli Works, the framework, toolkits
and services. The rest came from end-user applications. This year Moss expects less than 20% to come from sales of framework technologies and hopes end-user products will be 80% – and only 5% or 10% during 1994. Tivoli isn’t looking for any more investors and should soon start generating cash. It has 100 or so customers worldwide and is looking for an OEM deal in the Far East by year-end, when its internationalisation efforts should be complete. Distributed computing systems supplier Protek Ltd, Maidenhead, Berkshire, has an exclusive on Tivoli products in the UK and provides training and support.