IBM Director isn't Big Blue's most visible IT management tool. But the addition of a software developer toolkit in its newest version, 5.1, to be released in Q3 of 2005, will give independent software vendors (ISVs) more flexibility when integrating new features into Director.
IBM Director is a management tool focused on care and feeding of the hardware. It facilitates hardware configuration, deployment, monitoring and inventorying. The program takes a very granular look at servers and can pass information along to data center-wide management tools, such as Tivoli.
According to Rob Sauerwalt, global brand manager for IBM eServer BladeCenter, IBM Director has gradually moved from IBM x86 servers to other platforms. Seven months ago, Director began supporting non-IBM x86 servers from Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The next step was to bring Director 4.1 to multi-platform for i5/OS, AIX, z/OS and Linux. This ability was added in the last six months and is included in the current version.
With Director 5.1, IBM has added Express SDK, a software development kit that will be delivered around the end of June.
"Now clients don't have to wait for IBM to create or recreate industry technology. All we have to do is open up the specification and allow the industry to create the Director environment," Sauerwalt said.
According to analyst Tony Iams, with Port Chester, N.Y.-based Ideas International, the SDK will help strengthen Director 5.1 by allowing ISVs to pursue directions IBM may not have pursued itself.
"Think Micro Channel. Think OS2. Think Token Ring. Got all those pictures in your head? We've decided that those are bad ideas. We took the incorrect approach to bringing it to market; we did a closed idea. Now we're more focused on open things. We're starting to take our technologies and allowing the industry to build on top of them," Sauerwalt said.
It seems every vendor has been singing the simplification fight song, promoting management tools that save time and reduce complexity. Iams said this is occurring because the value in IT is shifting from compute power to management. The real cost in IT is people, which is why management tools are becoming more important.
"Cost savings don't come from spending $5 less on hardware. If you could require less face time from the IT administrator, you have given them a significant reduction in the maintenance cost, which frees up dollars for them to go do new revenue generating activities," Sauerwalt said.