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Managing IT Resources Via Twitter

In an attempt to give operations personnel an easier-to-use and more familiar interface, in addition to the ability to respond to network management issues more easily from remote locations, Enterasys Networks has added a user interface module--called Isaac--to its network management software that gives users access to the software via popular social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Chatter.

Chance Irvine, director of IT and infrastructure for Proxibid, an online auction vendor, says he is planning to try Isaac out on the Omaha, Neb., company’s Enterasys-based network. "The idea that my admin team can remotely yet securely manage basic pieces about the network, no matter where they’re at, makes their lives a little more convenient from an on-call perspective,” he says. “It’s a quality-of-life issue."

While there are workarounds that would enable Irvine's administrative personnel to be able to respond to network problems remotely, they are somewhat more “clunky” than being able to Tweet from their cell phones, he says. His primary concern is about security, and he will implement the software only if he can ensure that using it doesn’t open up the network to other people coming in whom he can’t manage, he says.

The social media interface is an abstraction layer that sits on top of the network management suite for improved security, says Vala Afshar, chief customer officer for the Andover, Mass.,-based Enterasys. Users of the software are sent a personal identification number that they have to enter before they can modify the network infrastructure, he says, adding that the user interface also includes audit capabilities.

In addition, for an additional layer of security, organizations can choose to provide access to the network management software via only the application and not through third-party social media applications, he says. Enterasys is also working with some of its technology partners, though Afshar would not name them, to enable their devices to be socially aware, either by porting the Isaac interface to their platform or by supporting their products' management information bases in the Enterasys software, he says.

What Enterasys has announced is indeed innovative, says Rohit Mehra, director of enterprise communications infrastructure for International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass., consultancy. Enterasys is linking its network management suite into two emerging IT trends--the first being mobility and the second related to collaboration use of social media in the enterprise, he says. IT
needs the mobile tools to empower them while on the go, and social media is the modality that bridges the collaboration gap. Combining them provides Enterasys users with a cloud-enabled network management enhancement that will result in operational benefits, he says.

Isaac is expected to be available next month and will be free to users until the fourth quarter of 2011. Beginning in 2012, the software is scheduled to be priced starting at $9,995, depending on the size of the network.

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