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Red Hat Isn't Alone at the Linux Management Table
Joining the League of Enterprise Management Systems
February 3, 2003
Red Hat made a big splash at LinuxWorld Expo by rolling out a new product and future roadmap for systems management. Meanwhile, with Linux making more enterprise inroads, Computer Associates (CA), IBM, SuSE, SCO, and many other players also showed off Linux-enabled management wares.
The first two components of Red Hat's "enterprise systems management framework" are a software delivery and maintenance module, already part of Red Hat Advanced Server, and a systems management module, just released as Red Hat Command Center.
Red Hat will add more modules to the framework in the future, said John Santinelli, director of product management, during a press conference at LinuxWorld. Possibilities under consideration include user management, provisioning, and profile management, Santinelli acknowledged in an interview.
Acquired last fall from NOCpulse, and then integrated with Advanced Server's Red Hat Network (RHN), Command Center runs only on Red Hat Linux. However, the product also manages servers and devices running on all other Linux distributions, Microsoft 2000/NT, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX, and FreeBSD.
On the other hand, the existing distribution/management module in Advanced Server works with Red Hat servers only, Santinelli said.
Likewise, the competing YaST systems management and maintenance tool supports SuSE and UnitedLinux distributions only, said Holger Dyroff, SuSE Linux's director of sales for North America. The UnitedLinux consortium--which includes SCO, Turbolinux, and Conectiva, along with SuSE--has adopted YaST from SuSE, its initial developer.
SuSE's YaST2 was one of seven finalists in the Systems Administration category of the LinuxWorld Open Source Product Excellence Awards. Volution Manager, a multiplatform management product from SCO, won the category.
Red Hat's new Command Center is available as either as a Red Hat-hosted service or as a server software product, run by customers in "satellite mode."
Specific features include configuration management; operations monitoring; asset management; e-mail and pager alerts, with automatic escalation; and historical, trend, and SLA reporting, with administrator-defined access rights and "full-blown graphing," Santinelli said. On the asset management side, administrators can keep track of lease IDs and serials numbers, for instance.
The product also enables management of system applications and third-party devices such as Cisco routers. Red Hat's "multitenant back end" will accommodate WebSphere, BEA, and database plug-ins, for example.
Instead of agents, which sit on client devices, Command Center uses sensors known as Local Scouts and Remote Scouts.
Sitel Corporation is already using Red Hat Advanced Server for software distribution and management, with plans to deploy Command Center in satellite and proxy mode during Q2, said Scott D. Clark, Sitel's director of systems engineering.
Previously, Sitel underwent a "failed Tivoli deployment," as well as less than postive experiences with Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS). With Tivoli, set up time for customers took up to 30 days, according to Clark.
"We've had a lot of problems with SMS, and it's very expensive," Clark maintained. Using Advanced Server's built-in software distribution/maintenance module, Clark finds it easier to install patches and errata.
OpSource, a service provider launched last June, has already used both RHN and Command Center. Prior to starting OpSource, the company founders had "a fair amount of experience (with) systems management products," said John Rowell, VP of engineering and operations. "We'd been burned."
Before deciding on Red Hat's approach, OpSource looked at other tools, including Macromuse's Netcool. Red Hat's management software, though, is "fun to use and lower in cost." Rowell also likes its smaller footprint. "It transfers its data in a secure manner," he contended.