Posted by: Ryan Shopp
CMDB, DataCenter, DCAB, Tideway
The crew over a Tideway offered up and impressive in-depth product demo last week. It made me realize I haven’t circled back to throw down my top five features for this functional area of the Data Center Automation Blueprint we’ve been working on.
With that said, I was impressed with their comprehensive agent-less discovery vs. the agent centric approach of Symantec (Relicore), HP (Opsware), IBM (Collation), CA (Cendura) or the passive-flow based from EMC (nLayers). I know some of these vendors can do some discovery through an agent-less approach but to get comprehensive feature functionality they will lead you toward deploying their agents.
So on to the top five features…
1) Comprehensive discovery engine that can automate the identification of and it’s communications relationships for any IT resource (e.g., applications, databases, services, systems, storage, network etc)
2) Impressive visibility capabilities including multi-layer topological / dependency mapping illustrations while offering comprehensive reporting options (e.g., graphical summaries down to detailed lists)
3) Reconciliation automation where this solution serves as the “source of truth” for the current state of the IT resources in the data center. At a minimum this should offer the ability to report differences between this and other Data Center Automation solutions. The real deal would have embedded automation/integrations that keep all products synchronized, saving major amounts of time for the system administrators and avoiding an event from occurring when it unfortunately wasn’t being monitored.
4) Accurate fingerprinting (e.g., discovery-to-data model mapping). Making sure the discovery process has the ability to keep up with newer software versions, new vendors etc for all the possible IT resources in the data center.
5) A fast search engine to quickly find an IT resource you are: troubleshooting, need to review prior to putting in a change order to understand potential impact or may be susceptible to a recently announced security threat, etc.
5b) A policy engine, built on the search engine, that enables users to define desired attributes for specific types of IT resources and be notified immediately when something doesn’t match that desired state so it can be remediated.
One other thing I noticed about the Tideway product that was appealing was it’s transparent approach. All communications between their product and each IT resource are visible down to the specific commands that are run. This enable the product to quickly build trust with the user since they can see the specific queries/commands used and their results.
I know their are other desired features so let’s hear them!
Speaking of that, at some point I need to put together the “table stakes” features that any DCAB product should have. You know what I mean – slick dashboard (e.g. iGoogle), RBAC, SDK/API, Grouping, etc, etc, etc.
I’ve also made a few more updates to the wiki summary version of the Data Center Automation Blueprint, come take a look and throw down some feedback.