As a senior vice president and software group executive, John Thompson is largely responsible for the overall strategy for IBM's software operations -- worth more than $US13 billion, a revenue figure slightly larger than that of arch rival Microsoft. Thompson oversaw the creation of integrated product development teams within IBM, a collection of smaller teams made up of development, marketing, testing, and financial personnel that has helped Big Blue deliver products to corporate users faster. Thompson spoke with IDG's Ed Scannell and Lynda Radosevich to discuss products and technologies due later this year, including Tsunami and Project B, two systems management products from the company's Tivoli subsidiary that are aimed at the enterprise and small to midsize businesses, respectivelyIDG: What role do Tsunami and Project B play in your overall systems management strategy?
Thompson: There are three major announcements this year from Tivoli for systems management, one of which we made in March -- Tivoli Cross Site, where we take the Tivoli management systems and allow groups of people to collaborate over the Web as well as manage the environments they are collaborating on.
So if I have purchasers and vendors working over the Internet, I can use Cross Site to manage that.
We believe it is the first major management technology applied to the Internet.
The second announcement, let's call it Project B, is a version of Tivoli TME for medium- and small-size business or departmental workgroups in larger businesses. It is easier to use and install, has a different price point, and can run multiple LANs.
The third is Tsunami.
What is new and different in Tsunami?
It is the next release of TME 10. It has three levels to it. It has the basic framework which has the base technology including the management agents and so forth. It has a group of standard applications that run on top of that framework, which is the second level, that handles the administrative work. The third level is all of the systems management applications provided by Tivoli's partners, the Ten Plus Association -- all the business partners and other organisations that write applications to run on top of this framework.
How does this differ from the current TME products?
We think it is far more comprehensive.
It is natural language-enabled and in all languages. It has different base code structure in a lot of places and the frameworks are lighter-weight.
What is the one feature it has to grab end users with?
It's the value proposition. It is an end-to-end solution across the enterprise. You can use it to run your LAN, workgroups, data centres, or any combination of that. Second, it runs on all platforms and all languages, so you can mix and match whatever devices you have out there.
One of the major design points of Tsunami is its full application management. Today, we manage Lotus or SAP with applications generated by VisualAge. But with Tsunami we will manage all the popular third-party software companies that build management agents into their products. We are working with those companies to build agents.
Can you give an example of how Project B lets you run on multiple LANs?
You can deploy and install software from a central hub to all LANs as well as manage help desk and tape back-up functions. You can also manage all the passwords across the whole set of work groups from a central location and schedule applications to run at certain times.