Boole extends scope, accessibility of Command/Post

Boole & Babbage Inc. has introduced a new version of its Command/Post systems management system that improves the support for management activity at a variety of levels in an organization and broadens the support for other vendors' management tools.

With Command/Post 4, the system offers access to its desktop interface through Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95, 98 and NT, as well as Unix, with World Wide Web support via Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Communications Corp.'s Netscape browsers. The support for these interfaces makes it possible for organizations to provide access to management data for authorized end users throughout the organization.

Browser access was a response to user demand, said Gary Read, a senior director for financial service marketing with Boole & Babbage, San Jose, Calif. "More and more companies want to push information out to end users," he said.

The new version of Command/Post also makes it possible for users to launch management applications from Tivoli Systems Inc., a subsidiary of IBM Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co. from the same interface by tightening the integration across the management frameworks, the company said.

Boole & Babbage also has provided support for a Windows NT-based midlevel management console from which users can access Power Modules, which are monitoring solutions tailored for specific packaged applications.

The new release signifies a "more proactive approach to management," said Ray Paquet, a research director with Gartner Group, Burlington, Mass. The software also lays the groundwork for "desired state management," enabling service-level agreements, Paquet said.

A service-level agreement (SLA) is often used in organizations where the information technology support staff is working on a fee-for-service basis. In an SLA, the support staff agrees to meet certain performance measures— the desired state of performance— as a contingency for being paid. Such an agreement requires an organization to capture performance data accurately.

An important new feature from the federal user's point of view is "midlevel manager capability," which will help to increase scalability, Paquet said. The Defense Information Systems Agency, for example, "has the largest network in the world," he said. "But you can't scale with one box. You need a hierarchical approach."

Systems integrator OAO Corp., which outsources the management of nearly 8,000 desktop systems for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, plans to test the new release shortly and will probably install it later this year, said Ed Blanchard, vice president for OAO's Desktop and Network Services unit in Altadena, Calif. Additional options on the OAO contract include JPL network management and another 3,300 Unix systems.

OAO uses Command/Post as the "mother of all monitors," said Terry Fong, an OAO deputy program manager. The software provides an "interface to other management tools [by performing] event correlation," Fong said.

Boole & Babbage also introduced Power Modules for managing Oracle database management system software, SAP America Inc.'s R/3 application and IBM's OS/400 operating system.

The additional Power Modules further the software's "end-to-end reach" into network hardware and software, Read said. By comparison, the HP framework covers "only a part" of the problem.

The Boole & Babbage product essentially is complementary to these management products, acting as a management integration tool with a "single service view," the company said.

"Some federal technology is 20 years old," Read said. "We do mainframes and Tandem and Unisys [Corp. computers] out of the box," he said. "Command/Post can manage any application."

Boole & Babbage's Power Modules have moved from SNMP to Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol for communications with the Command/Post server, Read added.

"Now you can use either or both." The advantage of TCP/IP is "you know when you've sent [a message that] it's been received." With SNMP, however, if a communication fails, "there is no notification," Read said.

With the TCP/IP interface, on the other hand, the software "automatically looks for a secondary server" if the first is unavailable, Read explained. If that attempt fails also, the message is "stored locally" for a later attempt, and the sender is notified of the failure.

-- Adams is a free-lance writer based in Alexandria, Va. She can be reached at cbadams@erols.com.

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