How Do You Manage Distributed Computing?

UniForum '95 track to explore systems and network management

UniForum '95 attendees who want to immerse themselves in the latest information on performance monitoring, security, and software distribution will find just what they're looking for in the conference track on Distributed Systems and Network Management.

Scheduled for Mar. 14-16, the conference is part of UniForum Week in Dallas, Mar. 12-16. This year the activities will begin on Sunday and end on Thursday, with the main exhibition and conference open Tuesday through Thursday.

In Control

One of 10 tracks available to attendees, the distributed management track will include eight sessions. "In Control of Distributed Systems Management," is the topic of the session chaired by Carol Realini, president and CEO of J. Frank Consulting. Realini will lead a panel including representatives of Bank of America, Charles Schwab, and Sun Microsystems-companies that have first-hand experience in distributed systems management implementations.

"The game plan is to have end-user speakers, to get war stories and case studies from users who have very complex environments and who are fairly far along in implementing a distributed systems management infrastructure," Realini says. The end users will be asked to talk about architectural design issues as well as implementation issues. "Both are very important to talk about," Realini says. "Sometimes people don't realize that. They think they can come up with a strategy, pick a few products, and bang-they've got a well managed enterprise. It doesn't work that way. Other people think all they have to do is go implement stuff but have no design or architecture, and find out that nothing integrates together and it doesn't fit into any sort of company-wide philosophy on how to manage the enterprise and provide a high level of service with a low cost per node."

Realini isn't much impressed with the "latest and greatest" products. "I think most of the product vendors [in system management] are providing 60 or 70 percent solutions, at best. Nobody has a full suite of products. The most important part of this topic is to talk about what the customers have to do, given the state of the world, the technology, or the enabling tools and the requirements for their business."

Introduction to SNMP

An "Introduction to Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)" session will be led by Frank Henderson, director of the Network Strategies and Design Practice Group of The NetPlex Group. Henderson plans to describe the components and basic commands, and explain what the protocol does well and where it's having problems.

SNMP defines reporting protocols and message formats as a means of improving and easing the management of network protocols and devices on the Internet. It is the first public domain protocol capable of managing devices and networks manufactured by multiple vendors. Henderson also plans to cover Remote Monitor (RMON), the Internet protocol that extends SNMP to allow remote monitoring of networks. RMON is about a year and a half old on the Internet and about six to eight months old on Token Ring networks, allowing software or a hardware device on LAN segment to collect information based on settings and feed back information to an SNMP console on an exception basis.

Network designers and administrators should benefit from the session, which is aimed at the basic-to-intermediate level and won't get into the code, Henderson says.

Distributed Security Administration

The session on "Distributed Security Administration" will be led by David Godfrey, director of enterprise security systems for 4th Dimension Software. What the topic involves, Godfrey says, is not the actual protection of data, but the administration of users who need to get access to the data.

UNIX security administrators have the basic problem of trying to provide security on a variety of operating systems, each of which requires its own security product. "What we're going to focus on is what takes place in order for a user to get to that data which has been locked up," Godfrey explains. "Administering the user is probably 85 to 90 percent of what a security administrator in any normal company would be doing."

The session will cover the three fundamental requirements of managing or administering a variety of platforms: First, managing the people; second, managing what each security product does to protect each distributed system; third, how to handle reporting and handling of security violations in a distributed environment.

Godfrey also plans to cover the prerequisites for allowing users to have a single sign-on for all the computing components that they should have access to. "You must know and be able to manage all users and all platforms across a heterogeneous, distributed environment first," he notes. "You must know your people and your platforms."

Software Distribution

"Software Distribution in a Client/Server Environment" will be a session panel chaired by Richard Mirabella, vice president of sales and marketing for Globetrotter Software, a purveyor of license management technology used in the UNIX marketplace. Also on the panel will be representatives of Microsoft and either IBM, Hewlett-Packard, or Tivoli.

"Two areas will come into play," Mirabella says. "One will be license management and how software vendors can continue to keep control over what licenses are there. We'll also look at tools for users to keep track of their licenses, so the user can control software costs while the software vendors make sure they get paid for the software that's used."

The session will also examine how trade can take place between software vendors, distribution channels, and customers allowing electronic distribution of licenses. The UNIX, Windows and Windows NT marketplaces will all be addressed. "License management is coming to the Windows marketplace in a big way," Mirabella reports. "UNIX servers as well as NT servers are part of that."

Those most interested in the session should be system administrators, those overseeing system administrators, and software vendors.

Other sessions scheduled for this track include "Tools for UNIX Performance Monitoring," "Capacity Planning in a Distributed Environment," and "Distributed Accounting and Chargeback."

For further information on registering for UniForum '95, see the UniForum '95 Show Ad.