IBM the newest provider of remote monitoring services


One of the biggest names in computing is getting into hosted remote monitoring services.

IBM Corp. has taken its Tivoli Monitoring software and tailored it for small to medium sized Windows, Linux and certain Unix environments who don’t want to buy the application.

Called Tivoli Live Monitoring Services, it’s aimed at organizations with between 25 and 500 IT resources, which includes operating systems, applications and devices. Anything that uses SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) can be watched, which these days covers almost everything a network touches.

When it detects a problem, such if a server overheats or runs out of capacity, an alert is sent to administrators. Some repair tasks can be automated.

Organizations “will be able to get access to enterprise-grade monitoring without setting up a server,” explained Dennis Quann, IBM’s director of autonomic computing.

However, the service isn’t inexpensive. There is a one-time $7,900 set-up fee, plus a monthly fee for each thing monitored, depending on the service.

Subscribers have a choice of three services: what IBM calls Touchless, an agentless monitoring at $54 a month per software or device, which does basic health and availability monitoring of operating systems, virtual machines, severs and network equipment; Distributed monitoring, which installs a $70 a month agent that gathers more data that the basic service; and Performance monitoring, which, for an additional $18 a month per device collects data for trend analysis. There is a minimum 90 day contract.

Remote monitoring isn’t new, points out Russ Conwath, a Toronto-based senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research. It’s offered by a number of providers ranging from small Internet companies to giants like Montreal’s CGI Group Inc. either as separate services or in conjunction with data centre outsourcing.

For example, Compugen Inc., a systems integrator with offices across the country, has been offering what it calls proactive remote monitoring for Windows-based systems using a service from Ottawa’s Enable Technologies. It’s priced at $75 a server a month, plus $25 for each application or operating systems. There’s a $50 per sever setup fee.Harv Gamble, the company’s national director of managed service said that lately it has customized software from another provider and in January will use that company’s hosted service as an offering. 

Conwath believes Tivoli Live will likely appeal most to medium-sized IBM customers who don’t want to pay the Tivoli licence fees or want to get quickly into system monitoring. “IBM has a brand and a loyal following, and that will bring them a lot of clients,” he said in an interview.

Even the fact that IBM calls it a cloud-based service might attract attention, he added, although what it really means is that Big Blue is hosting the monitoring.

What will differentiate the Tivoli Live, offering, he said, is how IBM sets up the service at the customer’s site. “The problem with monitoring services is that false alarms will kill you,” Conwath said. Some services he’s seen aren’t effective because providers leave it up to the customers to tune their environments.

“Whether it’s insourced or outsourced, monitoring, set up and configuration takes maintenance. And so far the folks I’ve talked to [both clients and providers] aren’t doing that well.”

Tivoli Live Monitoring offers live or e-mail support.

IBM’s Quann said it will be pitched at organizations that rely on critical IT services where an outage from a troubled piece of software or hardware is very costly.

Tivoli Live Monitoring, which is sold through IBM reseller and Tier 1 business partners, is an expansion of IBM’s cloud offerings. There’s also Lotus Live, online collaboration services, as well as storage, backup and virtual desktop services.

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