As networks continue to grow in complexity, most larger organizations need to streamline and consolidate the management of their various hardware and software as much as possible. A suite of system management tools that can manage the entire stack, including everything from servers to applications, is often far more attractive than a product that offers straight network management.
"The alternative really is managing each device or server separately, logging into separate consoles for each asset. But the problems arising from that are well documented, which is why vendors are stepping in with a holistic type of management," says Ross Armstrong, a senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group in London, Ontario.
The IT management software arena is big business - Forrester Research, Inc. estimates that the global market for IT management software licenses and maintenance revenues will be more than $15 billion this year. The Big Four vendors - BMC Software , CA , HP and IBM Tivoli - continued their dominance of this space in 2006 with a combined market share of 40 percent, and they're likely to gain another 5 percent in 2007, according to Forrester. But with the March release of System Center Operations Manager 2007, Microsoft is making a push for the top tier of the IT management software market.
BMC was a pioneer in business service management (BSM) and the configuration management database (CMDB), and its leadership in these technologies is reflected in its eponymously named management software. BSM as a technology dynamically links business-focused IT services, which includes parts of business processes, to the underlying IT infrastructure.
BSM as a product includes eight modules: Asset Management and Discovery; Capacity Management and Provisioning; Change and Configuration Management; Identity Management; Incident and Problem Management; Infrastructure and Application Management; Service Impact and Event Management and Service Level Management. Lastly, Atrium provides a CMDB and graphical, business-relevant views into the enterprise infrastructure.
From CA comes the Unicenter group of products, which is front and center in what the vendor calls its Enterprise IT Management (EITM) vision, software to help customers govern, manage and secure the enterprise network. The Unicenter modules are myriad, including: Network and Systems Management (NSM); Advanced Systems Management; Asset Management; Sysview Realtime Performance Management; Remote Control and Patch Management. When NSM r11 was released last year, CA revamped its pricing scheme, which consists of three tiers (down from nine) based on the number of CPUs per server. In April, CA revealed its plans to better connect its product suites in a scheme it calls "intelligent automation," which calls for shifting its offerings to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) environment.
When HP acquired Mercury Interactive Corp. last November, it combined Mercury's management software with OpenView to create a new organization called HP Software. Released this week, Forrester's SWOT Analysis of HP Software, Q2 2007, said, "HP Software seems to be ideally suited to providing a strong next generation of service-oriented solutions, combining Mercury's strength in life-cycle management, CMDB, and application mapping with OpenView's data acquisition abilities."
HP offers several OpenView network management modules: Network Node Manager Advanced Edition (as well as Smart Plug-ins); Route Analytics Management System (as well as Smart Plug-ins); Performance Insight; and Performance Insight Report Packs. There are many OpenView products to cover a vast spectrum of IT infrastructure tasks, including: AssetCenter, Business Process Insight; Compliance Manager; Enterprise Discovery; and Network Configuration Management.
IBM also offers a broad spectrum of products in its Tivoli suite, which includes business application management, IT mainframe management, security management, service management, and storage management, as well as server, network, and device management.
"With 10 software acquisitions in 2006, IBM has transformed its IT management software strategy into service management … it delivers IT to the business as end-to-end services rather than as stacks of independent components," said Forrester in the research firm's recent SWOT Analyses.
And now Microsoft is attempting to move from the second tier of management software companies to the top tier.
"All of a sudden IT has the choice of using Microsoft - I think that's going to play out to be important. But Microsoft will face stiff competition from the embedded vendors that have large installed bases already," says Armstrong.
Operations Manager is the latest in Microsoft's family of System Center management products and part of the vendor's "Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which includes a virtualized infrastructure, design for operations and knowledge-driven management. Operations Manager provides an overall view of the health of an IT environment, can track thousands of event performance monitors across hundreds of OSes and applications, and offers end-to-end service management for Windows. Additional System Center products include: Configuration Manager; Data Protection Manager; Reporting Manager and Service Manager.
When it's time to choose among these products, Armstrong advises beginning with a rigorous needs assessment and determine what exactly it is that needs managing. Do you want just network management? Do you want a more expansive set of modules that can manage the entire infrastructure?
"Figure out from an organizational perspective, what are the goals and needs?" Armstrong says. "For better assessment management, for example, look at vendors to help with inventory capabilities, and if you're a financial institution and security is much more important, then look at vendors with stronger patch management. Generally though, if you're looking at a generic set of needs and all vendors seem to offer the same … it could very well come down to price."
If price is your deciding factor, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to look to the second-tier companies - although that is certainly a valid option with several quality products to choose from. If you want to go with one of the big guns but don't have the budget for the full suite, you can purchase just the modules you need immediately - go for just the network management modules, and you leave your enterprise open to expand further into the management software arena as needs - or budgets - increase.
Alternatively, most of these vendors offer a "lite" version of these management suites aimed at - and priced for -midsized organizations. Microsoft offers the new System Center Essentials 2007 to manage enterprises with as many as 500 PCs and 30 servers. BMC has IT Service Management (ITSM) Express; customers can choose from Express editions of modules for asset management and discovery, change and configuration management and performance and availability management. From IBM also comes an Express version of Tivoli, with solutions for backup and recovery, desktop management, problem determination and security and information management. HP, however, does not offer a version of OpenView scaled to the medium size organization, and last July, Info-Tech Research Group deemed OpenView "impractical for small and mid-market enterprise."
In 2006 the top five smaller management software vendors were, in order of revenue, EMC , Symantec, Compuware, Sun Microsystems and Novell , reports Forrester. They may be smaller companies than the top tier vendors, but they're not exactly up and comers, and their offerings may be exactly the network management product your enterprise requires.
Through an acquisition, EMC offers the Smarts family of products, which includes modules for BSM, applications services management, infrastructure management and storage infrastructure management. Compuware's Vantage includes a BSM solution, End-user Experience Measurement and Application Analytics. Sun's management software include tools for network management, identity and access management, systems management and storage management. Novell also provides management tools for identity, security and systems management.
Symantec has expanded its offerings through acquisitions. Most recently, it gained service-oriented IT management software with the April acquisition of Altiris, and it added storage and server management products to its roster through purchasing Veritas in 2005.
This strategy is one shared by the top tier vendors, which have served to alter the management software arena significantly. By purchasing smaller companies, these vendors extend their presence in the market and make their products more robust. In addition to Mercury, HP acquired Peregrine Systems in 2005 to add IT and service management technologies to OpenView. CA has integrated products from Aprisma and Concord into Unicenter, and IBM bought Micromuse. More recently, acquisitions have been the source for security technologies, the most obvious being IBM's purchase of Internet Security Systems (ISS) and EMC's purchase of RSA Security.
Most vendors sell their offerings in two ways: either as best-of-breed solutions that can be tied together or as a product suite. Whichever way you go, these management products are very big, extremely complex, intricately priced and massively expensive - committing to one is a tremendous undertaking and a weighty financial decision.
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