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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Sit Down With ISC Admin Developers

The wonderful people with GUI/Web development at IBM were kind enough to have a conference call with me to discuss issues with the TSM admin interface. They have read my posts and thought I might have a good idea as to why so many people dislike the interface. The truth is, a central console to manage your TSM servers is a better paradigm than a web server per TSM instance process. What was agreed across the board is the problem with WebSphere. They made it sound like they are trying to move to a TSM Express model, which TSM Express uses a WebSphere Lite, and is lot more responsive. The current WebSphere is just too big and slow for the needs of TSM admins.

The other problem with the ISC that is very apparent is the inability to view selected content in the viewable area. See when you select certain commands the results of selecting that command many times will not appear on the visible screen, but below requiring scrolling. Let's face it not everyone managing TSM is an expert so they might miss it and think something is wrong with the interface. The good (and some consider bad) of the old interface was that a selection or command was instantly seen in the results frame. It wasn't perfect but it was more functional than the current model. The other issue, I believe was agreed upon, was the resolution used for the screens. The resolution needs to either be fluid like this blog (meaning resizing itself for various screen resolutions without going beyond the borders of the browser) or set to a specific resolution. The recommended resolution for the web to meet 99% of the users out there is 800x600. I know many of you might think that 800x600 is low, but it can be shown in almost every user’s browser. The ISC however seems built for a resolution of 1280x1024. This doesn't work because many people can't go beyond 1024x768 (like me with my laptop). With items off the screen it makes it harder to use the interface since things like the collapsible section button (minimize) are off the screen. I also suggested that the Libraries for All Servers section be a separate tab that changes color if one of the libraries is having issues. It gets in the way having it there at all times. Sure you can minimize it, but if you select another function it resets itself. I would also like to see the TSM servers easily definable. One of the issues I had is that every admin has to define their own servers to the ISC. So the same server ends up being defined multiple times when a single definition would do. If you can’t login who cares if you can see it? I also think they need to move the servers to an expandable list along the side frame so that you can select the server you want to work with and the context frame switches to that server content.

Another example of how they made the selection more complex is working with client scheduling. Tivoli took away the scheduling link and changed it so that to access client schedules you first select domains, then select the server you want to work with, choose the domain where you think the schedule is, then below the domain list you will see multiple options you can select and one of those will be Client Node Schedules, select that then you can choose the schedules you want to work with. Now after selecting the schedule you want to work with that took 5 selections to get to the schedule you need. And they are under domain so you don’t see a full list of schedules like before. So if you choose the wrong domain…start the process over. I also think they need to add an color coded error window like TSM Manager has. It is so helpful its amazing!

I would like to thank the IBM people who listened to my suggestions. I find it refreshing to see IBM working hard to fix issues to make the users experience more productive. I will admit I really want a central management console (that's why I love TSM Manager) and a streamlined, fast, and simple ISC will definitely win me over. Especially now since my new work place doesn't have TSM Manager! :(

Note: Please leave your own feedback in the comments section so that the TSM ISC Admin Development team can hear what you have to say. I know they would like feedback from more than me.


  1. Color to indicate status is great, but don't forget that many using the system are colorblind. This means having consistant symbols along with the colors to give a clearer signal to those who are color blind.

  2. Good point! Many people forget a good number of people in the world are color blind, so you are correct that with color coding a symbol should be included.