IBM Preps Director Software Update

Director 5.1, which is due out in the September/October time frame, will enable the management of all of IBM's server lines, including iSeries, pSeries and zSeries, said Rob Sauerwalt, IBM global brand manager for software and servers.

Currently, Director manages x86 systems not only from IBM, but also from Hewlett-Packard and Dell, he said. Competing server management products, such as HP's Insight Manager, are vendor-specific, which means IBM's cross-platform support is a key differentiator for the product, said Bill Nemesi, xSeries brand executive for VAR Mainline Information Systems, Tallahassee, Fla.

"It's definitely an added benefit," he said. "What you want to do if you're the end user, you want to put in as few management programs as possible. If you have one management tool that can manage the whole environment, then that streamlines your support requirements."

Also as part of what IBM has dubbed Project Simplify, of which Director 5.1 is the flagship release, the new software will include user interface enhancements that make it easier for solution providers to navigate the software. In particular, the update will include a view that looks much like a standard Microsoft Windows interface to make it more familiar to users that are new to Director, Sauerwalt said.

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In addition, Director 5.1 will integrate the configuration and monitoring of both server and storage hardware, so the configuration and deployments of both will be done together rather than as two separate tasks, he said.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM also is readying a new partner initiative in preparation of the release of Director 5.1. Through its Partners in Management program, launched several weeks ago, IBM will enable third-party ISVs to add extensions to Director so their own management solutions will surface in the Director interface, Sauerwalt said.

"[Through the program], a company like Altiris can write an extension so the [customer] doesn't need to use two sets of tools," he said. "We are inviting the industry to bring their value to the systems management interface of IBM Director."