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Express management tools lighten the load for SMBs

IBM's new scaled-down versions of its management tools could help alleviate budget pressures for SMBs.

IBM announced last week the phased release of Tivoli Express, an automated system management software portfolio that promises to be affordable and easy to deploy at midsized companies.

Coming soon

IBM Tivoli Identity Manager Express, released Feb. 28, will track the accounts and privileges of employees, simplifying the processes of giving access to a company's systems and revoking that access after a worker leaves the company.

IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Express, an inexpensive and automated backup and recovery solution, will be released March 17.

IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager Express is an inventory management and software distribution product that automatically distributes software and patches to keep PCs up to date and secure. It will be released March 31.

IBM Tivoli Monitoring Express allows small companies to automatically manage online applications such as bill paying systems and e-mail. It can resolve service problems such as "hung" applications and can detect the need for specific procedures such as engaging additional servers when server capacity is tight. This final Tivoli Express product will be available April 7.

Tivoli Express will allow midsized companies with limited IT resources, such as online retailers, hospitals and local banks, to view and integrate hardware, software, storage networks and computer systems.

This release is the latest of IBM's Express products, a suite of scaled-down enterprise system products that have been reworked to serve small and midsized businesses (SMBs). IBM has been using its Express products to expand into this market -- in 2005 the company added 26,000 SMB customers through the program.

The Tivoli Express portfolio includes four new Express products that will be released in phases over the next five weeks.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research, said technology at midsized companies has become more complicated in recent years. At the same time, IT managers are being asked to do more with their resources. The automated solutions offered by Tivoli Express could allow midsized companies to free up those resources, King said.

"The pressure most IT managers and technicians are under to do right now is to squeeze additional capacities out of their budget, to do more with the people and tools they have," King said. "Rather than making another (IT) hire, they can spend a few thousand bucks on an automated solution and get more work done."

Illuminata senior analyst and IT advisor Gordon Haff said Tivoli Express will help midsized companies eliminate ad hoc system management.

"Basically, a lot of identity functions have historically been handled in an ad hoc and siloed way," Haff said. "It's pretty much common-sensical that if five different systems need to be changed for a departing employee, there's much more opportunity to have mistakes or to have an omission than if it's in one location."

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Haff said Tivoli Express should reduce security problems with its automated identity management. However, he said, the product isn't necessarily a panacea. He said any management system must be accompanied by good company policies to make sure the software can do its job.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer

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