Tango/04 Delivers Affordable BSM, or 'Tivoli for the Rest of Us'
by Alex Woodie
Tango/04 Computing Group is embarking upon a new IT discipline with the latest release of its systems management suite for iSeries and Windows. With VISUAL Message Center 6.0, the company is now providing business service management (BSM), a relatively new strategy for melding the monitoring of IT infrastructure, applications, and business processes to create a more wholesome view of how these interdependencies affect service levels. Tango/04 seeks to provide an affordable BSM framework with VMC 6.0, which its chief calls "Tivoli for the rest of us."
You will likely hear more about BSM as the march into the services phase of IT continues and everything becomes couched in terms of being a service. Understanding how problems in one area of a business can have unintended consequences in another, and what IT's role is throughout the chain, is the lofty goal of BSM, which some have called the "higher calling" of IT.
The BSM concept has gained steam over the last year or so, and BSM tools are now available from all of the big systems management software vendors, which includes BMC Software, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, as well as a handful of smaller players, like Concord Communications, Managed Objects, Mercury Interactive, Micromuse, and Smarts.
Now you can add another name to the list of BSM providers: Tango/04 Computing Group. In early December, the Barcelona, Spain, software developer announced the foundation for its new BSM strategy, Visual Message Center Version 6.0, is now available.
"This is a very, very important announcement. We have been working for literally years to create this new technology," says Raul Aguirre, Tango/04's chief executive officer. "We are investing millions of dollars into this, and we have the support of our partners."
At the heart of Tango/04's new BSM capability in VMC 6.0 is the new ThinkServer monitoring engine. This is a Windows-based application that not only receives the status data gathered by the range of deployed agents (which are now called ThinAgents with VMC 6.0), but ThinkServer also creates the ThinAgents, too. And since the ThinAgents generated by the ThinkServer engine reuse most of the logic they need, the agents are able to be generated very quickly, and they consume a minimum of resources on their target system, the company says.
A new Web-based management program, called the Web SmartConsole, is also introduced with VMC 6.0. This is where users work with VMC and view diagrams of the IT infrastructure, which feature color-coded icons that correspond to the current state of the network. Users can also take action to resolve problems through the SmartConsole, which uses role-based security to restrict access. A license to VMC 6.0 entitles users to an unlimited number of Web SmartConsoles, or they can continue using the older Windows-based SmartConsole with VMC 6.0.
Tango/04 says that about 200 agents, mostly for Windows servers and the network, have already been developed for VMC 6.0. In fact, this new release greatly enhances Tango/04's position in the management of Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003.
The core pack of VMC 6 includes an unlimited number of SmartConsole, Web SmartConsole, ThinkServer, Reporting System, Notifier, TCP/IP Services, and SNMP support components. For each Windows server to be monitored, users can choose from three packs, including the Windows Basic Pack, which includes server availability and performance (CPU, disk, memory, processes, and services agents); the Windows Advanced Pack, which adds Event Log monitoring, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) data retrieval, an ODBC data adapter, and plain text logs applications agent; and an extended windows services agent; and the Windows Security Pack, which is focused on reporting and security auditing functionality, for meeting regulatory compliance.
While Tango/04 has put the focus on Windows server management with VMC 6.0, that's not to say that the company has forgotten its roots in the OS/400 space. Except for a new Job Duration Monitor, there are not many OS/400 ThinAgents yet, but Tango/04 says it is in the process of migrating its stable of iSeries agents created for earlier VMC releases to the new ThinkServer architecture with VMC 6.0. Older OS/400 agents will continue to work under VMC 6.0, the company says.
Other new ThinAgents in development include agents for the Unix and Linux operating systems, the DB2 and SQL Server databases, SAP and Domino, and two OS/400 high availability applications. Unannounced, but ready to go, is a ThinAgent that supports Oracle 8, 9i, and 10g database, Aguirre says.
The ThinkServer's agent-generating capability makes it easy for customers and business partners to create their own ThinAgents, with a little bit of DLL programming and an API. In fact, this is a core tenet of Tango/04's new BSM strategy, as the company has ambitious plans for the creation of a huge number of agents that can monitor practically anything, from ERP systems, databases, and Web application middleware to routers, printers, and firewalls--even air conditioners, ATM machines, and Coca-Cola vending machines.
"That is the beauty of ThinkServer; we don't have to do all the work. We can share the work among the partners," Aguirre says. "We have partners enrolled into the ThinkServer ecosystem that are very willing to create the agents."
Aguirre realized the need for a simple and affordable BSM system during client engagements. Some of Tango/04 clients needed to incorporate non-standard elements into their monitoring and management schemes. For example, one of Tango/04's customers, a cellular phone carrier, needed a way to connect its switchboard to its OS/400 and Windows applications so that they would know how much to bill their customers, and to quantify how much money per hour they stood to lose due to downtime.
BSM systems from IBM Tivoli, Computer Associates, or HP could have resolved the problem but would have introduced a new set of issues. "This idea is not new, in terms of architecture. But it has been extremely complex," Aguirre says of the BSM systems from the tier-one systems management vendors. "In the end, they are difficult for everybody to use, to deploy, and to get the ROI."
Aguirre says VMC 6.0 can provide similar capabilities one would find in Computer Associates UniCenter, HP OpenView, or IBM Tivoli, but without the complexity, cost, and implementation times that can span into years. VMC 6.0 costs range from about $100 to $300 per monitored server, and can be implemented a few weeks, Aguirre says. "It's Tivoli for the rest of us," he says.
VMC 6.0 is available now through Tango/04's network of 35 channel partners around the world. In the United States, VMC 6.0 is available from Tango/04's strategic partner, SoftLanding Systems.