Tivoli updates laptop management tools

Network managers supporting many mobile users may want to check out the latest versions of Tivoli Systems Inc.’s software distribution and inventory tools, unveiled last month.

Amid news the IBM Corp. subsidiary is laying off 250 employees, the company upgraded its Tivoli Software Distribution and Tivoli Inventory software products. The two are sold separately, but customers could benefit by using them in conjunction to perform software upgrades and help-desk tasks, the company says. Among the enhancements in both new releases is more support for mobile users.

The software distribution tool now gives laptop users the ability to download software upgrades as needed, to pause and resume downloads, and to reject downloads. It also now performs byte-level differencing, which lets net managers distribute just the data that has changed to a PC or laptop. This cuts down on network traffic and bandwidth use.

The inventory tool can track data, such as software changes and license compliance, and store it as history on disconnected laptops, which will help network administrators maintain an accurate record of the software on the machine.

A recent study by market research firm International Data Corp. shows IBM/Tivoli leading the market in change and configuration management software with 18.7 per cent market share. Computer Associates Inc. is right on its heels with 18.3 per cent of the market.

Although software distribution has traditionally been one of Tivoli’s strengths, competitors have been gaining ground. CA’s Software Delivery product already boasts similar pause-and-resume features – and while Tivoli says its laptop management is the first step toward managing handheld devices, CA’s software already supports Palm OS and Windows CE devices.

Rich Miller, manager of information systems at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, has used the two products for more than three years. The latest releases, Tivoli Software Distribution 4.1 and Tivoli Inventory 4.0, appeal to him because there are several laptops among the 11,000 endpoints he manages. Miller likes that his laptop users can choose not to execute large downloads when they are on the road.

“These tools quickly identify which PCs need upgrades and keeps a record for us. It makes the administration much, much easier,” Miller said. “We used to have to do everything manually.”

He added that implementing the Tivoli products was “painful” three years ago because Tivoli was expanding at the time and its services suffered. In the past two years, Miller reports Tivoli has improved its customer service, and he expects to take the software distribution and inventory products onto a live network without any problems.

Available now, pricing for Tivoli Inventory 4.0 or Tivoli Software Distribution 4.1 starts at US$31 per endpoint, with the cost decreasing as the number of endpoints increases. The company is on the Web at www.tivoli.com.