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Enterprise management tools with broad shoulders
Most large data centers use tools such as IBM's Tivoli, Computer Associates' UniCenter, or Hewlett-Packard's OpenView to monitor systems and give operations staff control over the systems and applications running on them. Fortunately, if you're inclined to buy such applications rather than build, all of these products are available for Linux systems. Unfortunately, Linux systems are supported as clients that can be monitored rather than as monitoring systems themselves, but half a loaf is better than none.
Tivoli, Unicenter, and OpenView have been around for a long, long time, and are used in most of the world's largest computing environments. They have a great track record and IBM, Computer Associates, and Hewlett-Packard should be applauded for being way ahead of the market in their support for Linux.
With tools such as these (they all support basically the same kinds of functionalities, but differ in their implementation and exact feature sets and add-on components), it is possible to do any and all of the following, without a single human being ever touching a keyboard:
- Add/delete user accounts
- Backup/restore file systems or end-user files
- Install software updates
- Monitor filesystems for high/low watermarks
- Monitor applications and have them execute commands on pre-determined conditions
- Have problems/alerts automatically entered into a trouble-ticketing system
You might be thinking "So what? I can do that with some Bourne shell scripts..." -- that's mostly true, but can you perform these action on 10,000 machines simultaneously? Will your scripts scale to a world-wide enterprise? Probably not ... and that's not a "bad thing" -- that's why enterprise management systems were developed.
Computer Associates' UniCenter
With the addition of enterprise strength management systems, you can put Linux systems into the heart of any data center and be assured that your systems can be monitored and managed as well as more "traditional" systems such as Solaris-based Suns or even mainframe systems such as the IBM 3090.
In the next article in this series, we'll cover some that can bridge the gap between the "several servers" model of management and the kinds of enterprise management represented by the Tivolis, Unicenters, and OpenViews of the world, and look at some open source initiatives that may one day provide yet another option in large scale systems management.
David HM Spector is President & CEO of Really Fast Systems, LLC, an infrastructure consulting and product development company based in New York
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