Companies might be consolidating their data again because of cost savings, security, and data integrity, but the shattered glasshouses that used to house system administrators and servers don't have to be put back together. IBM will let systems administrators do a lot of their work from anywhere.
IBM AIX server customers will be able to download Superior Wireless Applications software from the Web and work from Palm personal digital assistants by the end of the year. By March, IBM hopes to make the administration doable from cell phones and pagers. Swap will be free, and will operate with the IBM eServer p640. That server, with up to four processors, is priced at $13,599.
Swap will let administrators or business executives get down to a level of data that lets them change the sale price on a product for a network of stores. And the executive could do it from the most remote store in the company.
Primarily customers can use Swap for systems management functions that usually require a lot of hands-on administration. Through the new software, administrators will be able to track activities such as system performance, disk usage, and application and network monitoring. They can be out front working with users while still maintaining and monitoring the server.
Brad Day, an industry analyst at Giga Information Group, believes Swap will be particularly attractive to application service providers and other companies that want to keep IT labor costs down. Says Day, "Soon they'll have lights-out facilities that allow 70% to 80% of systems-management functions to be done with a PDA from anywhere."