IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2: Get best-in-class management of all endpoints
Tivoli Endpoint Manager family—and IBM is now building on that leadership.IBM's leadership of endpoint management took a major step forward with the announcement this year of the
This month, IBM Tivoli announces a new release of the Tivoli Endpoint Manager family, version 8.2, which includes many powerful new features designed to simplify administration and provide significantly enhanced capabilities.
For many larger organizations today, that announcement couldn't come at a better time. Because endpoints have proliferated in both number and complexity, it's become significantly harder to determine whether all endpoints are provisioned and configured appropriately, and whether they are secure and compliant.
Tivoli Endpoint Manager's impressive range of features is directly on point in resolving these and many related challenges. The product utilizes a single intelligent agent for all endpoints, regardless of their operating systems or underlying hardware. The agent receives policies and content from, and reports back to, a centralized server and a network of distributed, non-dedicated “relays” for all provisioning and configuration tasks.
Because the agent draws on the endpoint's own resources to do most of the actual work, a single Tivoli Endpoint Manager server can support up to 250,000 endpoints—a remarkably efficient architecture. Yet the impact on endpoints is trivial: less than 2% of CPU capacity and less than 10MB of RAM on average—so low that users won't even notice an impact on endpoint performance.
And because the agent’s capabilities are the same across all endpoints, management is similarly simplified and consolidated. The result is that it's much more straightforward to ensure each endpoint is compliant with policies such as meeting required patch levels, provisioned with the right software, and configured in the right ways, however numerous or diverse the endpoints may be.
New LDAP support for simpler, more convenient security
“With the newly released version 8.2 of Tivoli Endpoint Manager, the solution's security capabilities have been augmented even further. The product can now generate security reports that include historical trending—illustrating how well the terms of internal security requirements or external government regulations have been fulfilled over extended periods of time.”
With the advent of Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2, IBM Tivoli has made overall administration an even more straightforward and convenient process than it's been in the past.
Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2, for instance, now supports LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), taking full advantage of the established centralized security that LDAP solutions provide, and delivering all the business benefits that come with it. Console operators can now orchestrate endpoint management tasks in a simpler, faster way that, at the same time, improves rather than compromises security.
How does this work? Essentially, the organization’s standard LDAP solution, such as Microsoft Active Directory, becomes a central resource used by Tivoli Endpoint Manager to determine operator privileges and access rights for a given endpoint management task. The LDAP solution provides centralized authentication and authorization, verifying that console users are who they say they are and that they have the authority to execute management functions.
Once authorization is confirmed by the LDAP server, the Tivoli Endpoint Manager server automatically signs all administrative actions, making overall administration easier. This also improves the provisioning and de-provisioning of administrative rights, as access changes made in the directory are automatically and immediately reflected in Tivoli Endpoint Manager.
All administration headaches associated with distributing and managing signing keys (that might normally have been used to address these security concerns) have thus become a thing of the past.
And, of course, while LDAP support is provided, LDAP capabilities are not required. If no LDAP-based solution is in place, Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2 will simply continue to work as it has in previous versions.
New agent support for production server OSs
One of the great strengths of the Tivoli Endpoint Manager family is its comprehensive definition of endpoint—that is, not just as end-user endpoints, like laptops and desktops, but any form of network endpoint, including virtual servers used to drive critical business services.
That definition of endpoint gets even more comprehensive with the release of Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2. In the new release, agents are available for a wider variety of operating systems commonly used by those production servers. Organizations fortunate enough to have a System z mainframe, in particular, will benefit from the new option to extend Tivoli Endpoint Manager's centralized management to the many virtual servers running on that platform.
Specifically, Tivoli Endpoint Manager agents are now available for the following operating systems:
While certain operating systems aren't getting a new agent version, managers needn't worry about compatibility issues. Once Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2 has been deployed, the older agents (versions 8.1 and earlier) will continue to work as usual in those environments, as the new 8.2 server is backward-compatible with previous agents. These operating systems include Red Hat Linux 8 and 9, Fedora Core 3-7, AIX 5.1 and 5.2, and HP-UX 11.00.
Virtualized packages, compliance trending, and a new approach to software usage analysis
Also very helpful to IT managers is the new support for Microsoft's App-V application virtualization platform. App-V virtualized packages can now be deployed to Tivoli Endpoint Manager-managed endpoints, and the server can now also directly perform limited management of the App-V agent itself. This is yet another form of management centralization and convenience. It also allows organizations to provision virtualized (server-located) application packages as well as local (endpoint-located) packages, should they wish to. Tivoli Endpoint Manager also provides visibility into exactly which App-V applications are running and how they much they are used—which few competitive products can do.
Security is an outstanding strength of Tivoli Endpoint Manager, thanks to its ability to handle tasks ranging from patch installation to firewall configuration to aggregating information useful for improving endpoint compliance. And with version 8.2, Tivoli Endpoint Manager's security capabilities have been augmented even further. Tivoli Endpoint Manager can now generate security reports that include historical trending—illustrating how well the terms of internal security requirements or external government regulations have been fulfilled over extended periods of time. And towards getting the best possible business use from these reports, the solution can now also export them to completely different enterprise reporting systems, where they can be used to help guide teams wholly outside IT, performing tasks with a completely different focus.
Finally, the Tivoli Endpoint Manager 8.2 release includes a new implementation of Tivoli Endpoint Manager Software Use Analysis. Organizations that previously wanted this functionality were required to purchase the Tivoli Endpoint Manager for Lifecycle Management suite, plus the software use analysis add-on; now, it is directly available as a standalone product of its own.
Use Tivoli Endpoint Manager to update itself
If you're interested in upgrading to version 8.2, IBM Tivoli also offers some basic guidelines concerning the specific process to follow. For best results, you'll probably want to pursue a top-down approach, beginning with servers and consoles, then moving on to relays, and finally upgrading endpoint agents themselves.
While such an extensive upgrade might normally give you pause, bear in mind that the Tivoli Endpoint Manager value proposition applies recursively—to itself. You can handle the upgrades manually, but why? Tivoli Endpoint Manager easily and quickly upgrades itself, far more quickly, easily, and inexpensively than a team could, generating business value in yet another way. Many Tivoli Endpoint Manager customers upgrade their entire infrastructure within hours of a major release with no loss of service or functionality during the upgrade process.
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