As expected, SunConnect has thrown in its lot with NetLabs Inc, going to the Los Altos, California-based firm for an Original Equipment Manufacturer licence to its object-based Dimons 3G technology which will form the basis of a new multi-user object-oriented network management environment, currently known as Encompass. In addition, the Sun Microsystems Inc unit in […]
As expected, SunConnect has thrown in its lot with NetLabs Inc, going to the Los Altos, California-based firm for an Original Equipment Manufacturer licence to its object-based Dimons 3G technology which will form the basis of a new multi-user object-oriented network management environment, currently known as Encompass. In addition, the Sun Microsystems Inc unit in Grenoble, France, will offer NetLabs’ repository and database for storing and sharing network information as products in Encompass and on the forthcoming version of its existing network management technology, SunNet Manager 2.2. SunConnect and NetLabs will develop separate product lines out of Dimons, but will maintain a common set of application programming interfaces, protocols and information models. SunConnect will extend Netlabs’ high-level application programming interface into what it calls the Common Portable Management Interface, which will provide compatibility for any Dimons-based application, including those that will feature on other Dimons Original Equipment Manufacturer implementations, such as that over at NCR Corp. Dimons – known as Overlord from its announcement in February until this October – is currently only out as a development system from NetLabs. SunConnect will ship it in a developers release of Encompass in June or July – a general release is planned by the end of the year – for Solaris 2.x. It says Encompass will enable users to perform network management operations from any point on the network, unlike rivals like OpenView and NetView/6000 from Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp, which are tied to single management stations. The NetLabs technology will account for around 40% of the code in the first iteration of Encompass, including multi-user domains, a repository and automatic correction features.
SunConnect will supply stuff it says is missing, like a graphical user interface, additional security, proxy agents and a portable management interface for high-level object binding, and protocol interoperability between Encompass, NetLabs and SunNet Manager. The next release of SunNet Manager, version 2.2, announced back at InterOp, is seen essentially as an interim product for bridging existing SunNet Manager 2.1 and older release users to Encompass. In anticipation of Encompass’s object-oriented features, 2.2 will include dynamically-linked and static libraries. Indeed, 2.2’s dynamically-linked manager services and 2.2 agent services will be included in Encompass, which will therefore run 2.2 applications. 2.2 users will be able to share a repository of event information and network topologies with Encompass – or other 2.2 implementations – via a NetLabs-based component SunConnect is calling Co-operative Consoles. Co-operative Consoles comes along with Encompass but will be available separately as a migration tool for 2.2 users. NetLabs’ SQL-based relational database, report generation tools and a data aggregator are also available for 2.2 and Encompass users, for storing and retrieving process configuration and event information, and is packaged as Co-operative Reporting. Both modules use the DeskTalk System Inc Trendsystem 2.2. SunNet Manager 2.2, Co-operative Consoles and Co-operative Reporting will be out under Solaris 1 and 2 later this quarter – Solaris x86 versions of 2.2 are due by the third quarter, although a developer release has been around since last month.
By William Fellows
SunNet Manager and the co-operative modules (and Encompass) will continue as parallel product lines for the foreseeable future, the company says. Tilting at OpenView and NetView/6000, SunConnect will also offer proxy agents for AIX and HP-UX systems from this quarter under 2.2 and then on Encompass. The Encompass version will enable, for example, one machine to run a management application, another machine to run services and tools, and yet another to go off collecting information using these proxies. In addition there will be a new range of system administration tools for Encompass built according to Desktop Management Task Force
specifications. Furthermore, SunConnect says it is still working on its existing agreement to develop links between Novell Inc’s NetWare Management System and SunNet Manager: it expects the links to apply to 2.2 first, then Encompass. With Encompass, SunConnect is effectively offering a multi-user object broker mechanism for network management, something it hopes will provide a significant technology gain over competitors. Dimons, however, is not based upon Object Management Group object standards such as the Interface Definition Language, but on the ISO-defined Guidelines for the Definition of Managed Objects, created specifically with network management in mind. Encompass, and all of its associated objects are based upon the Guidelines. The problem with Interface Definition Architecture and Object Management Group standards, says SunConnect, is that they are only embryonic and not available as technologies relevant for delivering products in the short-term. The biggest customer for Unix-based network management, the telecommunications industry, has mostly standardised on the Guidelines in any case, says SunConnect. It says it will provide gateways to Object Management Group-based object brokers over time, as well as services to recompile Interface Definition Architecture definitions for Encompass. As network management and distributed systems management offerings become closer over time, there will in any case be a greater synergy between the technologies they use. SunConnect and NetLabs say that together they have shipped over 50% of Unix-based systems management offerings so far installed. SunConnect claims 13,000 SunNet Manager licensees. The 1992 International Data Corp figures show SunNet Manager with a 33% share of the market, OpenView with 21%, OverLord at 14%, Ungermann-Bass Inc’s NetDirector with 9%, Synoptics Communications Inc Lattisnet Manager having 7%, Cabletron Systems Corp Spectrum at 6% (the last two also SunConnect resellers), Digital Equipment Corp DECmcc with 6% (though DEC has since adopted NetView/6000), NetView/6000 with 3% and Lexcell Inc Lance with 1%. SunConnect claims around 70 applications up under SunNet Manager, roughly the same number as are available for OpenView. In the standards arena, both Common Open Software Environment and X/Open Co Ltd are looking towards persistent technology interfaces for network management, although the area itself is a priority for neither. Broadly, interfaces are likely to embrace the Simple Network Management Protocol, an extensible agent based on Desktop Management Forum standards that enable different network management protocols to be integrated and managed from a single interface and Object Management Group Interface Definition Architecture to define administrative objects. Interface Definition Architecture may form part of an application programming interface to write applications, or could – as SunConnect presumably hopes – be specified as simply one way of writing applications.
Do what they want
X/Open’s existing low-level XMP network management standard enables applications to talk to Open Systems Interconnection CMIP Common Management Interface Protocol or Simple Network Management Protocol without needing to use higher-level services, though in practice virtually no independent software vendors are using it, SunConnect says. Although network management providers are extending their products to include services that will support other vendors’ systems, there is still not much likelihood of an implementation of one offering being offered on a rival’s box. It is not a mature market, says SunConnect, arguing that Unix-based network management suppliers have enough to do just to be able to let them [their customers] do what they want at the moment.