Boole enhances multiplatform management

Boole & Babbage Inc. last week enhanced its systems management offering for the multiplatform distributed environment by adding support for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and Novell Inc.'s NetWare and offering a host of new functions and applications.

Ensign Release 3 (R3) gives Boole & Babbage a stronger midlevel component system to complement its Command/Post enterprise management system, industry analysts said. In addition to its support for non-Unix platforms, Ensign R3 is designed for quick installation and easy management.

That makes Ensign an attractive alternative to more enterprise-level products from Computer Associates International Inc., Tivoli Systems Inc. and other vendors, said Jill Huntington-Lee, senior analyst from Datapro, a Delran, N.J., research and consulting firm.

Boole & Babbage "is trying to position these products as something that is not quite as complex [as enterprise systems] and that can be deployed more quickly [to] fulfill the needs on a division level," Huntington-Lee said.

Boole & Babbage has already seen interest from a number of federal agencies that would like to deploy Ensign in conjunction with Command/Post, said Joe McCurdy, director of federal sales and support at Boole & Babbage's federal group in Reston, Va.

In one case, a civilian agency is phasing out an IBM Corp. MVS mainframe environment and moving to a Unix-based environment with more than 40 servers running five different operating systems. In such a scenario, Command/Post can handle the high end, while Ensign manages the distributed environment.

"Right now there is really nobody else out there who can handle all aspects of that," McCurdy said.

A number of agencies have deployed Command/Post, including the Defense Department and the National Security Agency. Boole & Babbage also has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the Air Force to develop Command/Post-based applications.

Ensign R3 is well-suited for midlevel management environments, analysts said.

The product suite comes with 50 preconfigured automation modules to handle an array of management alarms. The modules apply "rules of thumb-based" management in such areas as storage, security, application management and system utilization. Ensign R3 can launch automated responses or escalate an alarm to the appropriate administrator.

The preconfigured modules will help users get the system up and running very quickly, said Saverio Merlo, senior vice president of marketing at Boole & Babbage, San Jose, Calif. "It's a product that can keep the federal user focused on solving the problems rather than focused on the problems of installing the product," Merlo said.

In contrast, a product such as Computer Associates' CA-Unicenter can take a month or more to get in place, observers said.

Also, having automated scripts makes it easier to distribute management responsibilities in the client/server environment, the firm said. Organizations can use less technically trained administrators for day-to-day work, scaling up to a central administrator only as needed.

This capability makes it a good fit for help desks, which are becoming a critical component of DOD and other government organizations, McCurdy said. "The combination of Command/Post and Ensign in the help-desk arena is just terrific," he said, adding that Boole & Babbage already is discussing such an application with a DOD organization.

Also, as part of the new release, management alarms can be viewed and handled at management consoles distributed through out an organization. The consoles can filter alarms from all 13 Unix platforms Ensign supports. In the past, Ensign customers had to rely on centralized consoles provided as part of their enterprise management system.

Boole & Babbage also has integrated Ensign with off-the-shelf applications for scheduling, software distribution and trouble-ticketing.

Pricing on Ensign R3, which will begin shipping this quarter, starts at $10,000. The product suite will be available on Boole & Babbage's General Services Administration schedule.

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