(STAR) By Alma Anonas-Carpio - When growing businesses, the byword is investing, not spending.

As information technology (IT) becomes more intertwined with efficient business operation and growth, entrepreneurs are beginning to look at managing their software better – not to mention securing their data as well.

Earlier this month, IBM launched its Tivoli Security Operations Manager as an adjunct to its Tivoli IT service management (ITSM) package in Phuket, Thailand.

The Tivoli Security Operations Manager shipped out to customers on July 17.

The reality of the times is that business is no longer confined by time zones or conventional hours – that’s the whole point of having a website – and services are on demand 24/7.

In this age of computers, being online and having an intranet is what allows business to thrive at all hours and cross all borders, hence the need for ITSM and a set of standards called the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) to keep things connected, running smoothly and up to par.

The Tivoli Security Operations Manager is the first IBM product to incorporate technology from Micromuse Inc., which IBM acquired in February.

The software expands on the capabilities of Tivoli’s Netsecure product, which was cited by Gartner Magic Quadrant for security information and event management.

Real-time security watchdog

This software is a real-time security watchdog that allows organizations to react quickly when their networks are under denial-of-service cyber-attacks, such as when a former employee with lingering access to the company intranet tries to access sensitive company information, such as financial or customer data – an act which can lead to compliance violations.

Because service providers support always-on global data networks that deliver customer information, sales records and shipping updates, the security of such data is vital to corporate security and growth.

A denial-of-service attack can cripple an online retailer’s ability to conduct transactions, stop an Internet service provider (ISP) from serving its clients or prevent employees from accessing healthcare information on their company intranet.

By integrating network, security, identity and systems management, the Tivoli Security Operations Manager can minimize the damage done to computer networks by worms. A single worm attack can cost as much as $50 billion worldwide, according to the International Computer Security Institute (ICSI).

The Tivoli Security Operations Manager automates how security data are collected and analyzed across an IT infrastructure and prioritizes security incidents via a real-time dashboard – cutting response time from minutes to milliseconds. It makes providing cutting-edge data security less expensive for IT outsourcers, ISPs and corporations.

This software can also be used to help IT outsourcers and telecommunication service providers deliver more reliable service to their customers. It monitors how security incidents affect network health and allows network performance to be measured against service level agreements signed with customers.

Companies may also use the software to monitor security controls in accordance with compliance initiatives such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Basel II, ISO17799 and CoBIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technology), an industry framework for controlling and governing the use of technology.

Lloyd Carney, IBM Tivoli general manager for network management technology, said, "Current compliance initiatives... have moved from being an esoteric practice to a boardroom-level initiative. Converging critical areas within network, systems and security management will make networks more dependable, a key benefit of ITSM."

The Tivoli Security Operations Manager enables companies to integrate security data among different organizations and processes to assess and mitigate internal and external threats; align security activities with business priorities; implement, track and enforce corporate risk management policies and procedures; monitor security controls for compliance initiatives; and overcome log data overload and minimize false positives.

From the local perspective, growing businesses and the increasing number of businesses going online provide a fertile market for the Tivoli software suite.

Customizable software suite

While Tivoli is a fully customizable set of ITSM software and can be used by small businesses, the full suite works best with medium to large enterprises.

Al Zollar, IBM Tivoli software general manager, said, "The drivers of ITSM are big organizations, which must deal with complexity, a high rate of change, cost and compliance with regulatory requirements."

For smaller businesses, Zollar recommends that they start with the smaller components of the Tivoli software suite and add the components as the need for them arises.

"The beauty of Tivoli is that we can grow into the full ITSM package that businesses need," he said.

Martin Shallcross, IBM solution executive for ITSM and service on demand architecture (SOA) infrastructure, said the SOA demands of the times are that "you have to manage the service rather than the software, but you have to do both."

"We worked with our system and technology groups to forge a path to virtualizing the network, create a virtual infrastructure so you can have more things running on a physical server," he said.

The Tivoli software suite is constructed by components, sort of like building blocks that can be changed around, as infrastructure to support the network and system a company uses.

Maarten Koster, IBM Tivoli software director for the Asia-Pacific region, noted that "IT infrastructure complexity inhibits agility, performance and the ability to realize maximum value from SOA."

Because of this, "companies need to adapt their IT infrastructure to successfully enable SOA. By combining IT transformation services, software and hardware, the (Tivoli suite) helps clients evaluate, design and implement the IT infrastructure enhancements they need for effective SOA, while leveraging the IT assets they already have to establish a more flexible and robust infrastructure."

Koster and Shallcross also said the Tivoli software suite is powerful enough for government agencies to use.

"The potential is huge," Shallcross said. "You can run healthcare systems and enable government bodies to secure yet share information at a more efficient rate and with greater flexibility."

Because the Tivoli software components are flexible, Carney said, "You can actually scale the software to the needs of these agencies for maximum cost-efficiency and for maximum yield."

"There is a great ability to customize and pre-package software to use all marketing and communications technologies possible," Shallcross said.

He added: "While it pays to be unique, sometimes uniqueness adds no value, so you have to know where standards apply and how you can meet them."

With the addition of the Tivoli Security Operations Manager to the software suite, Carney said, "We now have one of the best ITSM solution offerings in the market, which allows our customers to regain control of their IT environment and make best use of ITIL."

For the Philippines, such scalability and customizability is a plus since our marketplace is one where the tingi retail method of the sari-sari store is deeply ingrained.

"This makes our product that much more in tune with the Philippine market, where the thrust of government is to encourage entrepreneurship in small and medium enterprises. We will grow with our Filipino customers," Shallcross said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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