New SAP software gives customers '360-degree' insight into IT environments

A new module allows customers to track and monitor hardware components

SAP customers now have an additional tool to manage their technology landscapes in the form of SAP IT Infrastructure Management, which was announced as generally available on Wednesday.

IT Infrastructure Management, which is based on technology owned by SAP partner Realtech, ties into SAP's Solution Manager toolset. It extends Solution Manager's capabilities by allowing customers to monitor "vendor-agnostic network components," including routers, servers, power supplies and storage, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, Solution Manager is focused more on application configuration, design, testing and monitoring. Last year, SAP released what it called the first major new version of Solution Manager, 7.1, in four years. The update added numerous features for handling both SAP and non-SAP technologies.

Along with IT Infrastructure Management, the combined product could give SAP shops an alternative to systems monitoring and management software from the likes of BMC, Hewlett-Packard and CA Technologies.

SAP's emphasis on improved system management, and therefore lower costs of operation, also comes down to keeping customers happy. The company angered many users in 2008 when it announced customers would be migrated to a more expensive Enterprise Support offering. SAP defended its move, saying customers would gain more value and features, among them the use of Solution Manager.

While Solution Manager is available to customers at no additional charge above maintenance payments, it wasn't immediately clear Wednesday whether this is also the case with the new IT Infrastructure component.

Meanwhile, SAP rival Oracle is also keen on giving customers more ways to optimize their IT operations.

Oracle customers can upload their configurations to Oracle, which can then provide proactive monitoring and alerts. This type of service has become more key for Oracle following its entry into the hardware business with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

The vendor has placed huge emphasis on its "engineered systems," such as the Exadata database machine, which combine its software with hardware, networking and storage. This approach gives customers not only better performance but also a single point of accountability, Oracle contends.

To this end, Oracle recently announced a new set of high-end support services for engineered systems customers. Customers with current support contracts won't be charged extra for the service.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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