Demand sparks vendor moves

Five years ago, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) began an overhaul of its IT infrastructure, which involved striking alliances with five major vendors.

“Part of what we had to do was get more efficient and effective at running IT,” said Gary Davenport, vice-president and manager of IT operations management at HBC. “Behind the scenes…we’re looking at pieces of the puzzle. We have solutions on the mainframe, Unix based (equipment), a Teradata warehouse, Windows environments…when you look at it all together, there was a lot of pieces to manage,” he said.

That led HBC to BMC Software Inc.’s suite of Patrol mixed-environment analysis software, including Patrol Perform and Predict for performance analysis, and SmartDBA, which manages mainframe databases.

The result, according to Davenport, is more useful data produced in a shorter timeframe. The tools allow systems administrators to simply use the skills they already have to drive the data. IT also gives administrators the “state of the environment,” something they couldn’t easily gauge before.

Access to that data has also enabled HBC to begin the multi-year phase-in of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) management standards into their environment.

HBC is not alone. Although the technology operates very much in the background, recent activity in the network and systems management space highlights a continued interest in the area among IT managers looking to find as much cost-saving and efficiency as possible.

Real-time monitoring of the type offered by vendors such as IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Computer Associates International Inc. and BMC Software Inc. are also seen as integral to the “utility” or “on demand” computing scenarios, where resources are portioned according to usage levels.

IBM Corp. recently acquired its longtime partner Candle Corp. for its decades-old management technology. Andy Mullins, Candle president and chief operating officer, pointed to changing customer demand for the move.

“Today, buyers are looking for single provider to offer more of a total solution across their environments,” Mullins said. “We knew we had to either dramatically expand our own portfolio or partner to fill it out. The best path for us was to merge with IBM.”

Meanwhile, on the legacy database front, CA recently unveiled enhancements to its three new suites for an IBM IMS database running on z/OS, the operating system for Big Blue’s zSeries 900 line of mainframes, which supports a 64-bit architecture as well as Java- and Web-based applications.

These suites fall under the umbrella of CA’s Unicenter Database Management Solutions v5.1 and include the Unicenter Database Performance Management Suite 5.1, the Unicenter Database Administration Suite 5.1 and the Unicenter Database Backup and Recovery Suite 5.1. The Unicenter Database Management Solution enables a user to centrally manage numerous types of databases from one console including IBM’s IMS, IBM’s DB2 on zSeries, Linux or Unix as well as Microsoft’s SQL Server and an Oracle Corp. database.

The Durham Solutions Centre of EDS Canada in Oshawa, Ont., currently runs the Database Performance Management Suite 4.3, which was released in July 2002. Additionally, the centre has been beta testing new features of the Unicenter Database Analyzer, which is part of the Database Performance Management Suite 5.1, on and off since December 2003.

John Manning, information specialist at the Durham Solutions Centre, which has numerous IMS FastPath databases, said with Database Anaylzer’s new features it is easier to load or unload data from the IMS databases. He added that it is faster than the previous version.

– with files from IDG News Service

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