This entry is to provide you a write up on my experiences so far with the beta.
TPM (Tivoli Provisioning Manager) 5.1 is the next evolution to TCM (Tivoli Configuration Manager). TPMfS provides the ability to connect TCM into TPM, which will allow for the management of both environments from TPM.
So what's the big change? Well, pretty much everything!
Here is a quick summary of some of the features.
Web Based Front-end
There is a usable web based front-end, that has easy flow in a task oriented design. I have found it fairly easy to navigate to the various tasks that are required to perform.
There are no Profile Managers anymore, they are now called groups. These groups can be defined as static or dynamic. The dynamic groups are determined by a report that is re-executed when a group is accessed.
Inventory is now known as Discovery. This provides the same functionality as InventoryConfig profiles and much more. Discovery also provides a facility to discover new devices (computers, switches, routers) using many different methods such as SMB (for Windows), SSH, SNMP, MSAD, CCMDB and more.
Reports replace the Query Libraries with many pre-built web based reports. These reports can be exported to PDF, XML and CSV formats. The reports can also be sorted by columns and the columns can even be re-arranged. New reports are easily created by following a 4 step wizard that generates a SQL based query that is executed against the TPM database. This is the one thing that Tivoli has really lacked from the beginning. It has had excellent data in the inventory database, but getting that data was next to impossible.
About the only thing that is event the same is that Software Packages built in TCM can be used in TPM. This is good news for everyone that has spent lots of time developing Software Packages.
Much like Tivoli Monitoring, this new product does not require Framework to be installed to be able to use the product. TPM for Software is designed to connect to the old TCM environment with endpoints and the new TPM environment with TCAs (Tivoli Common Agents)
TPMfS was relatively painless to install. You will require two computers to install the product. One server is the Topology Installer and the other will be your TPM server. The Topology Installer is a server that contains all the product images that are required to install TPMfS. From this computer you will remotely install the various components for TPMfS. This installer will take care of installing everything that is required for TPMfS to function. This includes: DB2, Websphere and Tivoli Directory Server (if MSAD is not available). Once the TPMfS server is up, you can then perform the Discovery of computers and install the TCA (but not on the TPMfS server).
This was the part I really wanted to see work, as this is the most important part of TPMfS for people that are currently on TCM. In order to prepare your TCM environment, you have to be at 4.2.3 FP02 with IF0001 installed (I see that there is IF002 now out also, not sure about the requirements for that one). Once everything was patched up I executed the TCM replication and IT WORKED! Imagine my surprise when I saw my TMR, MN/GWs, endpoints, SoftwarePackages, InventoryConfigs in TPMfS.
Ok, so now everything was in, does it actually work you ask. Yes it does, I was able to send an InventoryConfig profile to both Endpoints and TCAs from the same task and the data was returned. Same thing with SoftwarePackages. Very cool!
Pros and Cons
During this install and test of TPMfS, it was very interesting to see all the new features and functions that are available. The question now is, what was good and bad about TPMfS? Remember, these opinions are based on my testing with the beta 2 product, so they could change. This is also done on a all Windows environment.
1) I really think that Tivoli is nailing the market with this one. They have provided a really good front end to a really good back end. They have had a really good back end in the TCM environment, but the front end was always, shall we say lacking.
2) The reports are very good. The canned ones will not provide all the features you need, but it is very easy to create new ones and customize existing.
3) Discovery is a really nice feature. In the TCM/FW environment, is was always hard to find when new computers/devices come online. Now with all the various ways of discovering devices, it is much easier to know what is in the environment
4) Compliance checking is a new feature that has many checks that can be done against a system to see if it meets compliance configurations. For example (these exist already):
- see if the screen saver is enabled and set to a period of time to activate
- check if the system has an antivirus product installed (Symantec, Mcafee, Trend Micro)
5) If found that the product demos and locally stored Info Center where very useful. TCM did have help files, but they were hard to get at and for the most part were stored in MAN pages. For the average 'user'of TPMfS, this will be very welcome.
1) TCA install is currently limited to install only through the TPMfS server. I have not heard of any way to manually install the TCA on a system. Hopefully this will be addressed somehow
2) The TCA is a Java based client. This can be a pro or a con, depending on your point of view. I personally do not like it as it always seems to make the client fatter on the disk and memory
3) The TCA client takes about 200MB of disk space. Part of this is because the JRE is installed and that is 95MB by itself.
4) Once loaded into memory, the java process takes about 35MB of real and 35MB of virtual memory. I found that once I did any action, this would jump to about 100MB of real and 100MB virtual. Also once the job was done, the memory usage did not drop.
5) I found that the CLI is somewhat lacking from what we were used to in TCM/FW. For anyone familiar with ITM, you now use mostly SOAP calls to do anything. Good/bad, you be the judge.
I would have to say that I am pretty satisfied with where Tivoli has gone with this product. My only caveat on that statement is that I have not tested this in a large environment, so it will be interesting to see how it really performs under load. This would be similar to ITM 6.1. We saw that in a smaller environment, this product was very cool. That is until you really got to the larger environments and saw the headaches people where having (a lot of this has been addressed since GA).
Now would I put this product in full production? Well not yet, but from what I have seen I think that it would be good to get this into the test lab soon so that you can get the feel for the new way of doing things. I would say that full production is still a couple months away just so some bugs can be worked out in people's test environments. A caveat on this statement is that this is the TPMfS with integration for TCM. Since TPMfS is just a subset of TPM 5.1 and TPM 5.1 has been out there since the end of June, if you are not planning on connecting to TCM, then get going!
Please feel free to ask any questions about comments made above or anything else you want to ask. We will do our best to get you the answer, even if we have to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Oh hang on, we already do that ;)
Here are some previous write-ups on TPM 5.1
Tivoli Provisioning Manager V5.1 - Product Overview
Articles on TPM 5.1: Workstation Discovery Process
Articles on TPM 5.1: Installing Tivoli Common Agent
Articles on TPM 5.1: Executing inventory scans
And if you don't mind, please complete our polls on TPM