A quick review of this space from the DCAB is first up.
Description – Cross-silo automation for mundane manual or high occurrence tasks. The capabilities are focused around helping individual technology domains (e.g., network, windows, unix, database, etc) communicate and collaborate to automate tasks that before required numerous people and passing around a trouble ticket.
Top 5 Capabilities
1) Drag/Drop graphical interface for designing process workflows
2) Common, normalized Data Model of common/primary attributes
3) Library of pre-defined, re-usable actions/triggers/processes for usage out-of-the-box (bigger the better – even a community that shares is a plus)
4) Policy/Desired-state engine driving things
5). Sandbox, simulator to help test workflows without impacting actual resources/instances within the production enterprise.
BMC (formerly RealOps)
CA (formerly Optinuity)
HP (formerly Opsware, formerly iConclude)
IBM (formerly Micromuse Impact)
LANDesk (Process Manager product)
NetIQ (Aegis product)
So since the last update, what has been going on in the space….
It’s interesting to see Stratavia tweaking their company positioning as the “independent” choice. Makes sense considering we’ve had a wave of consolidation with the big 4 ensuring they have coverage for this functional area, and also other well known (larger) management vendors (LANDesk & NetIQ) adding capabilities.
Optinuity was acquired by CA in October and naturally that changed some things for Opalis which had a previous OEM relationship with CA. Opalis in turn also trumpets the “independent” choice and has gone further into talking about how this doesn’t serve the customers since those vendors are using those acquisitions to bring their own products together and not looking at it from a heterogenous standpoint of I have 5 products from 3 vendors and I need them all to work together smoothly. One last area that I need to do some more exploring around is something I felt a year ago would eventually happen and the lines would start blurring between Business Process Management (BPM) solutions and IT Process Orchestration. The are starting to compare/contract with BPM and also talk more Business Intelligence (BI) messaging. It’s nice to see a vendor lay out in plain site some recommended evaluation criteria for all customers and even competitors to see…great way to set the bar.
Those are a couple key things i’m seeing at a glance…what else is going on out there. Who else is in the space these days, what is their key differentiator versus the players listed above. Drop you comments in below if you a vendor or a customer using one of these vendors or another one I don’t have listed. I’ll make updates to the DCAB if it’s appropriate.]]>
In the end for my favorite of the bunch, AlterPoint (yes, i’m biased), the end wasn’t what the team along the way had in mind. It’s great to see a home for the software that can continue to take care of some of our great customers including household names like Citigroup, Microsoft, E-Trade, Yahoo, Hertz and many others. The acquisition to me personally brought closure but also reminded me of the great team and journey that I personally had the experience to be part of. I spent about 4 years at AlterPoint and worked with some really great people that were amazing at what they do. A number of those strong players these days are over at another great company in Austin that many people reading this blog may know called Solarwinds. Others found themselves helping other network and systems management companies in Austin and beyond. It was a great ride (at times) and in retrospect I miss those days and those experiences and hope again some day to get to work with one or more of them. Alright, enough of that sentimental, memories type stuff.
NCCM was a great play that in my retrospective perspective was like what Firefox has done versus Microsoft. It provided a real challenge to an established vendor that had fallen asleep at the wheel. What do I mean by this? Cisco and it’s CiscoWorks product line, since they own pretty much all the networking hardware market, was the incumbant. The software was really struggling to solve the problems of it’s customers and simply wasn’t a priority to them. Along came the NCCM vendors and soon enough that all changed. Cisco after a few years of seeing NCCM success and hearing it from their customers, really started putting significant efforts back into their software products that competed against the NCCM vendors…they even embraced one of them and did an OEM deal with Rendition after evaluating all of us. They learned from that and in the end they are the ones who stand most victorious from my perspective. I think either directly or indirectly or however you want to look at it they learned more about the value of management software and it’s affect on hardware and sales in general. From that I’m sure we will see in the upcoming month some loosely associated results when the announce their “California” Blade Server and explain more about their relationship with BMC (a.k.a. BladeLogic, RealOps, Emprisa). This is destined to help spark and shake up the Data Center Automation market and even more the Data Center itself. This is going to be interesting!
So one last hats off to the NCCM vendors, a final salute to AlterPoint and to all those who put in their blood, sweat and tears helping build NCCM.
some news coverage links around the AlterPoint acquisition:
NetworkWorld: Versata Enterprises acquires AlterPoint
Austin Statesman: AlterPoint acquired by Versata]]>
First up, all these vendors use a variety of techniques to collect a variety of data from as many points of view as possible.
These data collection points can be statistics about a specific IT infrastructure resource ; physical devices, virtual devices, physical connections, virtual connections or resources running on physical or virtual devices like services, processes, applications, databases, etc.
Or the data collection points can be traffic flows or end-to-end specifics including passive traffic flows, synthetic transactions or even as simple as a pinging from remote points.
Metrics that are captured, typically revolve around throughput, errors, utilization, latency, up/down status, etc. (there are way to many to mention here).
After saying all this, there is a list a mile long of vendors (a number already noted on the DCAB) that capture these predominately time-series oriented data points about performance, capacity, availability using any/all these methods or vantage points (I know, passive traffic flows are not time-series data but patterns/usage/performance etc can be determined from them).
So, with all that data, what most these vendors offer are two primary types of functionality; 1) a variety graphical reports and 2)metric thresholding capabilities that produce a list of outstanding issues/alerts/alarms/events/concerns (whatever you want to call them).
Ok, so why did I organize and point all this out. So I can draw a line around where most of the innovation from my perspective is occurring. The above is for the most part in my eyes a commodity these days. Most companies have had collection/reporting/thresholding capabilities spanning multiple technology silos since pretty close to the start of the enterprise networking. The reports continue to get fancier, the number of data sources a single product collects from continues to expand, etc. Another sign of commoditization is related to the variety of economic business models offering these products; open source, managed service providers, internet distributed products, appliances deployment models and indirect sales forces, large enterprise direct sales force, completely flexible frameworks for service providers to basically “build their own,” etc.
For the most part where the majority of technical innovation is occurring these days is the next layer above this data collection, reporting and alerting. Now let me say this, yes…there is some great innovation still occurring in the data collection realm (e.g., Xangati offering real-time Netflow down to a user level, PacketDesign monitoring routing messages, NetQoS leveraging advanced TCP/IP theory to analyze where end-to-end bottlenecks are occurring). But, for the most part these new data sources are being used to augment or replace currently deployed data sources in an attempt to see things from either as many vantage points or the best vantage points to avoid surprises within their unique enterprise IT environment.
So where is the serious innovation coming from…stay tuned for part 2.]]>
So HP & BMC have acquired the major pieces, IBM has many of the pieces too, but some are showing their age versus the newer products that were acquired by their competitors. CA has been the quietest of all players, so I would expect for them to make some moves to shore things up ASAP (but most likely at this point having to pay premiums based on previous CCM valuations). Meanwhile, EMC has been methodically building themselves up in the hope to make a run at knocking off one of the big 4 in IT Infrastructure Management, but they still have some serious work based on the recent moves of some of the current big 4.
Data Center Automation is about to hit the major growth curve now that multiple big guys have strong portfolio’s in the game. As predicted, 2008 is going to be hot for Data Center Automation!]]>
It’s focused on Complete Enterprise Management, not specifically focused on the Data Center so I thought I would summarize and then compare/contrast/discuss:
Since it isn’t data center centric, it’s light on automated management for applications & databases. It also chooses to stay away from the very congested and sometimes confusing security/protection market.
Next up, I thought it would be fun to do a quick mapping to the Data Center Automation Blueprint.
I was surprised not to see an End-User Application Performance Monitoring category. These products either do their duty from passive agents on the endpoint or from data center appliances using slick algorithms, TCPIP theory, etc. Maybe that could have indirectly been rolled under Network Fault & Performance as CA acquired Wily which offers that. The other one missing was more towards Capacity Planning and Trending Analytics, either based off historical data like what Opnet offers or from real-time data patterns from Netuitive.
Needless to say I found it a really nice write-up and summary of those products/offerings. The only thing I struggle with is all of the big 4 (BMC, CA, HP, IBM) are represented in this mix. Which means you will have 4 sales guys all continously battling it out to grab more land. This may be good from a cost competition standpoint, but it’s a real fiasco for making sure all parts are playing nicely with each other or simply managing those vendor relationships. Bottom line, you’re always going to have at least one of the big 4 in there as they continue to snap-up the innovative smaller companies/ technologies to enhance their portfolio and offer differentiation. So I’d typically recommend a strategy where you pick 2 of the big 4 and keep them in check versus each other while continually looking for those innovative start-up’s to fill in the gaps. Here is an example of how you could do this using the categories in the original article.
Or, if you want to completely rebel and go the non-big 4 route, take a look at the above mappings to the DCAB and look for a name that’s not big-4. Example: Network Fault & Performance: InfoVista or NetQoS]]>
2007 TechTarget Products of the Year – Data Center include (categories by DCAB functional categories):
Resource Reconciliation (category combined with Configuration & Change) solutions from CA, BMC and Scalent
A couple other categories that map to the DCAB are;
Process Orchestration solutions from Symantec, Opalis and CA
Performance & Capacity solutions from NetIQ, BalancePoint and CiRBA
I find the CiRBA solution very intriguing after my read and post on Innovations in Performance Management yesterday.]]>
Vendors doing both Deployment & Auditing (listed alphabetical)
Vendors focused on Auditing
Vendors that do both primarily for desktop’s which extends to provide some server configuration and change capabilities for the data center
Just as with my previous post on Performance & Capacity I’m not done with this one. I started going through the laundry list of vendors in the “virtualization” space but simply ran out of my allocated time for today. So I’ll pick back up on it at a later time]]>
But then, we have a slew of others that have been around for quite some time now…
And some innovative up-and-comers in some unique technology/approaches…
Real-Time Behavior/Pattern Analysis through Dynamic Thresholding
IP Traffic/Packet Flow Monitoring & Analysis
Open Source Software (OSS) vendors
Whew..that was more work then I expected to pull together and I’m not done yet… Please throw into the comment who I’ve missed (I know there has to be a few).
The major challenge here is organizing and breaking down this functional area. There are so many approaches to obtain performance metrics from/for the data center. Some of the techniques and perspectives include;
I’m going to need to have a part two (and maybe more) for this functional category breaking down the pro’s and con’s of various approaches. Which vendors do what, etc. I also need to revisit that question from the top of do we combine this into a single “availability & performance” functional category??? For now, this first pass will have to do…]]>
1) create list of vendors I know about that have some capabilities for the data center in the specified functional area
2) during this first pass attempting I also hope to breakdown each function by some major capabilities.
*NOTE: Help me out if I miss some vendors, miss some products within vendor product lines etc. Again, the focus is for current/future complex data center so I won’t be including tools like Ipswitch What’s Up Gold or products that are on their way out (end-0f-life) by vendor (e.g., NetView).
Event consolidation & root cause analysis
A new product segment that has materialized that for now I’m going to go place here is log management where you maintain historical event/message/alert logs and then have historical reporting and applying advanced indexing and searching technology to quickly find the “needle in the haystack” problems. It also has application beyond operational availability management of the data center within the security space for compliance management.
Next up will be the current Data Center Automation Functional Area of Performance and Capacity.]]>
BladeLogic had a very successful webinar, over 400 people, where real customers talked about real benefits of configuration management automation for their data center. The press releases on the survey results & the webinar sound like a infomercial (which it should be since it’s marketing). I was hoping to take a watch but their archived link doesn’t allow me to register and watch. I enter my registration information and it says the event is full. Oh well, another time.
ConfigureSoft also had a webinar, more process centric (PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT: Closing the Loop on Change), but it’s archived and I was able to check that one out.
Tripwire, not wanting to be outdone, had 4 differerent webinars recently. The one I checked out was The Five A’s of a Healthy Data Center. Where their focus was around the 5 step process of monitoring your configurations in the data center (Assessing, Assuring, Auditing, Achieving, Automating)
Ecora back on the 11th had a webinar around surviving audits through monitoring your configurations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it archived anywhere to check it out.
Solidcore didn’t have a new webinar to offer but did put out a press release highlighting how they can help with the upcoming PCI deadline on December 31st with monitoring configurations.
mValent, who focuses on very the specific challenges of application/middleware configuration management, had a very interesting press release with some hard ROI numbers;
AlterPoint, focused on the network side of the data center, announced their analytics solution can now extend/compliment a customers previous investment in CiscoWorks (if they are a predominately Cisco networked Data Center) without requiring replacement.
I also looked to see if their was anything new from HP (Opsware), EMC (Voyence), BMC, IBM, CA but didn’t see anything specific. And I recently talked about configuration vendors that are focused on virtualization so I didn’t rehash that.
I know I must have overlooked some vendor(s) out there, throw your information in the comments section (if your the vendor) or if your an enterprise using another product please tell us who your using and what you think. I’ll take a look and update the post if appropriate.]]>