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Dos and don'ts of heterogeneous management

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

If only running a heterogeneous system was simply a matter of getting machines and software to work together. Instead, it often ends up like a scene from Romeo and Juliet, with managers cast as the mediator between competing families of vendors. That's why managing heterogeneous systems calls as much diplomacy as technical know-how, said Tivoli CTO Bob Yellin.

In this second part to this searchWindowsManageability interview, Yellin, CTO of Austin, Tex.-based Tivoli Systems, Inc., described some "dos and don'ts" to managing a mixed network. Don't forget to check out

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Part one of this interview, too, where Yellin discussed running applications on Windows and Linux, virtualization and some overall management tactics.

Don't pick proprietary protocol to one of your environments as a standard. "Go with industry standards, universal management protocol," Yellin said. Do use SNMP or Common Information Model (CMI), for example.

Do get vendors to pre-test and pre-validate the interoperability of a product as much as possible. "You could pick best-of breed-everywhere, but there are times when you may want to use something from another vendor," Yellin said.

Do think about hidden costs. Testing and interoperability certification can be costly. Do put as much of that load on the vendor as possible, said Yellin.

Don't forget about training. Windows administrators are not automatically going to be able to run a Linux server. Linux is still a fairly technical environment. "It's not a plug-and-play technology. Linux is certainly not as mature from a friendliness point of view as Windows NT, for example." The weakest link is the expertise of the average user, he said.

Do acknowledge that you'll need a tool for consolidated directory management. There isn't a lot of independent directory technology available, Yellin said. "A lot of what Windows is doing is tied into the Active Directory."

Do look into directory administration. Linux directory structures, application directory structures under Linux, and directory structures under Windows make for complex organization, so get it under control.

Do recognize the concept of identity management. You'll need to manage the identities across the multiple platforms. "That is a problem that deals with software distribution, provisioning, and permissions that are associated with people on various platforms with various needs," Yellin concluded.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Don't forget to check out Part one of this series.

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