Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An optimistically pragmatic opinion about ITM 6.1

You know the world is divided into three kinds of people, optimistic, pragmatic and pessimistic. In case you don't know how to identify these people, here is an example.

An optimist is the one who books one-way ticket to Vegas thinking he would return back in his private jet anyway. On the other hand, a pessimist is the one who books two two-way tickets 'just in case'?A pragmatist books one two-way ticket.

However, while writing this article, I realized I belong to the fourth kind, optimistically pragmatic. Expanding the above analogy, this person would book one two-way ticket with return-ticket cancelable. I would.

Having defined what kind of person I am, here is my opinion about ITM 6.1.

ITM 6.1 is definitely a GOOD product by any standards. IBM has got the basics right, this time. It is easy to install, easy to configure and using Universal agents you can monitor any application you like in short-time. Very nice graphical reporting feature is an additional bonus.

Scalability is a concern. Though IBM keeps revising the numbers, number of servers required for a reasonably big infrastructure is still too high. However, this issue can be addressed as the product matures with some creative solution (Remember Tivoli Firewall Security Toolkit?). I would rather have a good initial product with scalability issues than a bad but scalable product.

Supported systems
Database support is not good enough yet. Oracle is supported only by data warehouse. Similarly, warehouse proxy agent is supported only on Windows. This might scare away lot of sites that insist on using only Unix servers and uniform database product across the enterprise. But the upcoming fixpacks and revisions should address this problem.

ITM 6.1 is simple enough to install and do initial configuration. Does it mean end of the road for the highly sought-after Tivoli consultants? I don't think so. It still requires good architecting skills; Universal agents still require good programming skills and what more the new-age consultants now must have good database, reporting and Windows skills that used to be 'nice-to-have'skills before. Perl will still be useful for automation (see my earlier post about using Perl to make SOAP calls) but it may not be as omnipresent as it was before.

Those who used the previous Tivoli core products and even security products take it for granted that most of the GUI operations can be somehow done in Command Line Interface (CLI). Be it idlcalls, MCSLs or ???????????????w'?commands, there is a way to achieve more in CLI than GUI and this has helped to develop powerful as well as creative automated solutions in all these years. However, this is another area where the ITM 6.1 breaks the legacy. It is true that you can access most of the monitoring data via SOAP calls and tacmd CLI provides a way to do basic operations, but that still leaves the automation features of ITM 6.1 a lot desired. There are so many basic operations such as manipulating Managed System Lists (MSLs) are not supported via CLI at this point.

Making in-road into new markets
As of now, this product definitely does a good job for Small and medium enterprises. If IBM addresses the scalability concerns, it would definitely bring a good name in large enterprises as well. As an optimist, I have every reason to believe that the good name will bring in new Tivoli businesses. But will it bring enough businesses to move Tivoli into mainstream IT consulting? This is when the pragmatist in me asks to defer the judgment for another day.

What do you think?
What is your initial impression about ITM 6.1? How would you describe your impressions about ITM 6.1, optimistic, pessimistic, pragmatic or optimistically pragmatic? Or do you belong to the fifth category, pessimistically pragmatic? Feel free to post your comments.

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