Cisco to make Web management splash

Cisco to make Web management splash

Cisco Systems next month will introduce a comprehensive package of Web-based tools for managing enterprise networks anchored by the vendor's routers and switches.

The company's CiscoWorks2000 offering will work with existing management platforms and share data with more than 20 vendors' management applications.

CiscoWorks2000 takes advantage of technology called the Common Information Model (CIM), which grew partly out of the Web-based Enterprise Management (WBEM) initiative spearheaded by Cisco, Microsoft and others say that CIM, which enables management programs to exchange information, could relegate the popular SNMP to a lesser role.

The bottom line for customers is that they will be able to construct management environments - which sources say Cisco is calling "management intranets" - entirely from Internet technologies. Using CiscoWorks2000, administrators will be able to manage networks via their browsers, clicking on hyperlinks to fly from one management tool to another.

"With Cisco's announcement, this really signals that the Web is becoming the new paradigm for the management software market," says Jim Herman, vice president of Northeast Consulting Resources in the US. "This is the year in which the Web approach to management clearly become the mainstream."

Browser interface

Other vendors marketing Web management tools have little more than a Web browser interface in their applications. No company is offering the hyperlinked access to multivendor tools or the level of data integration that Cisco is, Herman says.

For Cisco users in particular, the management intranet should go far in integrating the myriad management tools Cisco has inherited through its $US7 billion worth of acquired companies.

CiscoWorks2000 may also signal the end of Cisco's traditional CiscoWorks router management package as a stand-alone product. CiscoWorks2000 relies on Cisco Resource Manager (CRM), a Web tool that Cisco's been offering for about a year for router configuration and status monitoring, according to the company's third-party management software developers and other sources.

Cisco coyness

Cisco declined to comment on CiscoWorks2000, so it isn't clear what the company's plans for CiscoWorks development are or what sort of migration path the company has in mind for existing CiscoWorks customers.

Initial CiscoWorks2000 modules include a new version of CRM called Resource Manager Essentials and CiscoWorks for Switched Internetworks (CWSI) Campus.

Resource Manager Essentials provides inventory and configuration management, software deployment, device status and availability information as well as syslog analysis tools for switches and routers through a browser interface.

CiscoWorks2000 represents Cisco's first product from the WBEM initiative the company helped launch with Microsoft, Intel, Compaq and BMC Software two years ago. The WBEM CIM technology was defined within the Desktop Management Task Force.

Northeast Consulting's Herman says CIM represents the Holy Grail of management application integration that platforms such as OpenView and standards bodies such as the Open Software Foundation have promised for 10 years but never delivered.

"CIM is one of those once-a-decade breakthroughs in the management business," Herman says. "We have failed in the past in every attempt to define an open, usable standard for manager-to-manager data exchange. CIM is the one that's going to make it."

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