IBM Corp software subsidiary Tivoli Systems has begun shipping its Applications Policy Manager (APM) software, which enables network managers to monitor in real time the status of a corporation's applications and underlying infrastructure. APM is an applications management tool that is the final component of the TME 10 (Tivoli Management Environment) global enterprise manager suite. It covers the four levels of a network on which software resides: the network management layer, systems management, middleware and applications. With it, 'business managers can understand whether or not these levels are working', said Martin Neath, senior vice-president of the Tivoli product group. For example, the software would show if there was a problem with the payroll system, rather than reporting a general network or systems failure. Tivoli - which makes software that can manage a company's network resources and computer systems - is considered as an emerging chief competitor to Computer Associates (CA). Tivoli's TME 10 has met with stiff competition from CA's popular Unicentre TNG framework, which some analysts have estimated made up a quarter of CA's US$4 billion annual revenue. Mr Neath said both Tivoli and CA were trying to solve similar problems, but their approaches were different. Unicentre was a 'monolithic' package used in a closed or proprietary environment, he said, while TME 10 could be used under all leading computing platforms and could be bought in separate modules allowing customers the freedom to choose only what they needed. Mr Neath added that APM's graphical interface was simplified and easy to understand, enabling corporate managers to determine at a glance where the problem was and how it was affecting the rest of the company's network links. In addition, the interface is Java-based for use with Java-equipped Web browsers or Java virtual machines. CA next year plans to ship more than 1.5 million copies of its framework bundled with hardware under partnerships with vendors such as Digital Equipment Corp, NCR Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co's systems division. Similarly, Tivoli recently announced a deal that will bundle the TME 10 framework on 3Com's network interface card (NIC) software suite. 3Com sold about 1.5 million NIC cards a month, Mr Neath said. By bundling frameworks, more users were exposed to products from Tivoli and CA, increasing the likelihood that they would buy more advanced versions. However, IBM - which purchased Tivoli two years ago - had not yet decided whether to ship the TME 10 framework with its hardware, Mr Neath said. The price of the TME 10 database management module starts at HK$7,500 per server, and at $113 per user licence. Localised versions in simplified and traditional Chinese characters would be available in the first half of next year, Mr Neath said.