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]]>
He also recently jotted down some of his thoughts on capabilities within the comments section for the posting “Data Center Automation Blueprint; now includes virtualization thoughts.”
Here are some of my initial thoughts that I will take another pass at cleaning up in the next week or two. I wanted to get this posted in a timely manner to hopefully inspire some discussions:
1) Inter-domain Integrations – Steve called it “Cross Silo” in his comment post. But the analytics solutions need to have a data model and API/SDK that is not specific to one domain (e.g., databases, windows systems, network devices, websphere applications). To perform holistic analysis you need more then one point of view.
2) Pattern Logic Automation- Automation through algorithms, rules etc that work to mimic the human problem solving / analysis process.
3) “Advanced” Graphical Visualization- more then summary graphics, pie charts etc…what I’m think here is something I can look at that helps me see the pattern or some unique situation/trend affecting the business (e.g., correlation of trouble ticket and performance monitoring details). A better name then “advanced” is needed here for sure.
So far the vendors I’m thinking of when I’m creating the above functionality list (as noted in the DCAB) include;
Who else do we believe should be in this analytics bucket? Thoughts on these 3 capabilities? What are some others?]]>
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.]]>
I had the chance to take a look at ZipTie, a free network administrator “cockpit”, over the weekend. The utility, available for download from www.ziptie.org, is part of a growing open source movement in network and systems management. I recommend putting aside 60 minutes over lunch one day to download and check this out while you ‘re eating your sandwich.
The best comparison I can make around current ZipTie capabilities would be to imagine PuTTY or SecureCRT on steroids. NOTE: you need to have credential password access to the network devices to get the value I’m going to talk about from here on out…so if you don’t have those rights on your network devices then this may not be for you. Below is a quick screen shot that shows the primary cool features I’m going to hit.
What is so impressive about this desktop utility is it’s simplicity. Download, install, discover and now you have a personal inventory list (e.g., routers, switches, wireless access points, application acceleration devices). From that device list you can take a variety of forensic or troubleshooting actions when you need to:
If you don’t see a tool that represents a current script you typically use when you’re troubleshooting, no worries. You can build one (remember this is open source) or if that’s not your forte, head up to their user community, post the current script you use and ask for someone else to help build it. Same thing goes with making sure ZipTie has support for the network devices you need. Say for example you have some firewall that it seems no other network management vendor supports, not a trouble for ZipTie. There is a “how to guide” to build it yourself or again, post up to the community and ask for help! Also, while your up on the site, check out the other capabilities the utility offers while making sure you review their complete road map which they publish.
It’s amazing how far network management has and still is evolving. Functionality like this would have cost an enterprise tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars less then 10 years ago. This will be another angle to consider as I get back on track and continue to build out the Data Center Automation Taxonomy I’ve been working on. Just wanted to take a moment and share this find.
Full disclosure: I worked for AlterPoint over a year ago. This ZipTie initiative was just about to start when I left. This was my first chance to check it out and since I was so impressed I felt compelled to share my perspective.]]>
What I’m perplexed on is over the past 30 days two other Network Configuration/Change Management vendors have been consolidated by major players; Voyence by EMC and Emprisa by BMC. So why not AlterPoint is what I’m pondering over the last couple days? Time to jump on my soapbox for a minute or two…
With a marquee customer list that includes; Citigroup, HSBC, Microsoft, Yahoo, Hertz, TJX, Walgreen, Cingular (now AT&T Wireless) and numerous others. A list that easily that from my perspective and opinion eclipse what Voyence or Emprisa had captured.
Additionally, AlterPoint is diversified in their offerings. They recently announced specific new applications that leverage the core NCCM technology for Compliance & Analytics. Finally, talk about being a good corporate citizen – they have lead the way for a commercial IT management vendor taking a portion of their revenue producing product and productizing it for open source (called ziptie). So they have a thriving customer list, are not a “one trick pony” and are giving back/building a strong community behind their capabilities. What’s not to love
So if we take a quick look at the landscape, that leaves IBM, Symantec, maybe CA (they had an NCCM type module included in the Aprisma acqusition) and maybe Microsoft (they recently OEM’ed InfoVista which I discussed in my last posting) with a big hole! So in my opinion the best NCCM business/product is still out their on the market so let the bidding begin. The longer any of those players wait the further behind they will get in delivering end-to-end use cases for their customers that require the capabilities of NCCM.
Now my hats off must go to Opsware who was the first to see and execute on the end-to-end configuration vision for data centers. They acquired Rendition back in late 2004 and once they brought things together their valuation continued to increase which likely assisted with the recent acquisition of Opsware by HP.
Bottom line here, if your not currently leveraging an NCCM product either, commerical or open source, let me say they are amazing products that help save time, money and frustration for network engineering and operations. These automation tools are critical to the data center and beyond and compliment similar automation tools on the applications/systems side (those offered by BladeLogic, Opsware, etc). More on those automation players in upcoming posts. I would also recommend taking time to subscribe or at least check out the AlterPoint sponsored blog highlighting key evolutions and perspectives in Network Management.
As noted in my personal about section these are my own opinions and based on personal beliefs and public knowledge. I left AlterPoint back in September 2006 for some new opportunities but continue to be a avid fan and cheerleader of the NCCM space, all the vendors (competition is a good thing) and especially my friends still over at AlterPoint!]]>