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A new installation feature lets customers install or upgrade Patrol products across systems from multiple vendors simultaneously, rather than having to configure each separately. The software uses wizards and predefined settings for common system configurations and can cut installation times by more than half, according to Sean Duclaux, BMC product marketing director.
The company has added new security mechanisms that allow administrators to limit the ability of certain users to perform tasks within Patrol. The mechanism lets customers define management profiles and job responsibilities for groups of users, Duclaux said.
BMC has also extended its software to new platforms including SuSE Linux AG's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 and Microsoft Corp. Windows XP, and is working with Microsoft to support its forthcoming Windows .net Server operating system, he said.
BMC called the upgrade its "enablement release". It also includes a new type of Patrol agent, a program that sits on the systems being managed and feeds information about them back to the various Patrol management modules.
Existing, Patrol agents deliver information to administrators directly in what Duclaux called a "two-tier" model. The new agent due out today (18 March) gathers information about systems in a "broker cloud" where it can be shared among various Patrol management modules, Duclaux said. The goal is to make the products more effective for troubleshooting, diagnostics and other management tasks.
Customers will need the new agent if they want to take advantage of new components to be made available later in the year, including new consoles and a new software distribution feature, BMC said. The new agent is free to Patrol customers who are on BMC's maintenance plan and will be included for free with newly purchased Patrol modules.
One analyst said the enhancements are a move in the right direction.
"I've seen demonstrations of it, and from what I've seen, it looks easier to install and more effective," said Richard L Ptak, a senior vice-president with the Hurwitz Group.
Systems administrators are being asked to manage an increasingly broad array of hardware and software, and vendors such as BMC are trying to offer tools that let customers administer multiple environments without needing to have specialised knowledge in each area, he said. Rivals such as Computer Associates International, Hewlett-Packard and Tivoli Systems are moving in a similar direction, he added.
BMC released a list of products that take advantage of the new installation and security features. They include Patrol for Microsoft Windows Servers, Patrol for Unix, an updated version of Patrol for Desktops, Patrol Console and Patrol Explorer. A complete list of compatible Patrol products is available on BMC's Web site.