OAO builds management solution

As part of a massive desktop and outsourcing project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), OAO Corp. has designed a remote monitoring infrastructure built around management products provided by Boole & Babbage Inc.

One of the first federal desktop outsourcing projects, JPL's $200 million Desktop Network Services (DNS) Contract calls for OAO to provide all the equipment and support personnel to initially support 7,000 desktops, notebooks and servers. OAO will be monitoring and maintaining these machines— which the company will be replenishing over the next three years at the rate of 200 a month— from a remote-command center where officials will manage all operational functions.

Eventually, through this remote-command center, OAO officials can monitor minute operational details, such as the temperature of a machine or if its cover has been removed, said Ed Blanchard, OAO's vice president of the Desktop Network Services Division. The OAO team will be deploying an online graphical interface that will allow remote software upgrades and error corrections and that will provide trend analysis data about the desktop machines, he said.

The management centerpiece for this remote infrastructure is Boole & Babbage's Command/Post family of products, which will monitor and automate all critical tasks associated with application availability and performance to allow service levels to be remotely managed.

"With our concept of a 'manager of managers'...the Boole (& Babbage) products allowed us to get there faster and at a reasonable price," Blanchard said. "When you're managing a tremendous amount of data, you need a manager product...to help make intelligence of that data. We take ownership from the time the [technical support] call arrives...until the call is closed. It's seamless to the customer."

OAO will be deploying 3,400 Command/Post Power Modules to check desktop and server status of CPU usage, available memory and hard disk capacity and to report items to Command/Post that need corrective action. OAO also will use the Power Modules to collect application performance data and forward it to Command/Post for analysis.

OAO tested many products to see if they could handle the diversity of JPL's enterprise and its stringent service levels, said Gary Read, senior marketing director of client/server products at Boole & Babbage. Because this is an outsourcing project, OAO is measured on the time it takes to respond to incoming calls.

Command/Post products effectively integrate with JPL's existing management products, including Microsoft Corp.'s System Management Server, Remedy Corp.'s Action Request Systems, Tivoli Systems Inc.'s TME and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView, according to Boole & Babbage officials.

In addition, OAO will be using a product from Netopia Inc. called Timbuktu, which allows the remote management of a Macintosh from a PC and vice versa, Blanchard said.

Richard R. Green, JPL's DNS program manager, said OAO designed the remote infrastructure as part of its proposal for the contract. He said JPL officials devised contract requirements that would allow industry to present its own solutions for desktop outsourcing. Green said the project, which was devised to meet downsizing requirements, would save the laboratory $5 million over five years.

Kathy Ollivier, Boole & Babbage's federal manager, said that in addition to JPL, the Justice Department and several intelligence and Defense Department agencies are using Command/Post products for enterprise management.

The company also is working with 15 other agencies interested in purchasing an enterprise manager, she said.

"They feel [the need] to get their arms around their large and diverse systems and networks in order to manage their mission-critical applications," she said.

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