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HP Operations Manager Migration to HPOM 9 from Tivoli TEC Migration from TWS Unix System Monitoring   BMC

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Unix Configuration Management Tools Perl   Humor Etc

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.”
 -Albert Einstein

IBM continues to ask for a premium price on its products despite no longer being a monopolist (as in 1996) or leader in many areas of enterprise system management (ESM).  Also in current economic conditions many organizations can be better off with simpler tools, tools which do not require dedicated staff. 

The need for alternative to Tivoli arises mainly due to its overcomplexity, price and poor architecture.  In this sense IBM with its Netcool/Candle perfectly shoot itself in a foot: it replaced a very complex product with a pair of equally complex, equally expensive and only partially compatible  products.  This problem has several aspects

Even on high end of spectrum there are cleaner solutions with lower total cost of  ownership the IBM offerings. It is interesting to note that newer versions of  some Tivoli products are by themselves an alternative to "old" Tivoli :-). Several newer products like ITM 6.1 has nothing to do neither the old product nor with Netcool/Omnibus and is rebranded version of a competing product that  IBM bought. At one point IBM brass realized that it would be difficult for them to command high price in the future and this moment of weakness has found its reflection in so called "Express" products. Later they were sidelined as desire to milk that franchise prevailed over other more rational considerations.  High renewal price of maintenance, often half a million dollar in annual maintenance for portfolio of products (say TMF, TEC, TPM, ITM and TWS) for a medium size datacenter (let's say less then 500 servers) is another factor that push many organization into overdrive in finding alternative. Such efforts usually are synchronized with the end of contract (for large organization the initial contact with IBM usually lasts three years or more so defection during this period is next to impossible) or end of support of one or more "classic" Tivoli product (for TEC this is 2012).

The other problem with Tivoli is low quality of architecture of the whole Tivoli line. For any specialist it is obvious that the same functionality can be provided more elegantly, more flexibly, with less complexity and with less cost. Tivoli became a strange mix of the products that were bought, not developed at house. This underling architectural diversity and functionality overlaps is a serious issue. That raises important question in many middle IT management minds: if IBM cannot provide a high level of uniformity and integration across the line of products why best of the breed approach is weaker?

While successful against "old Tivoli", Netcool/Omnibus line does not necessarily represent state of the art of this fast moving field. As any acquisition-based package it suffers from non-uniformity of architecture with the rest of Tivoli line, especially with TWS and TCM.

While successful against "old Tivoli", Netcool/Omnibus line does not necessarily represent state of the art of this fast moving field.  As any acquisition-based package it suffers from non-uniformity with the rest of Tivoli line, especially with TWS and TCM and high licensing costs

Nor IBM provides a scripting friendly environment which is extremely important for cutting the cost of the ownership of the platform.  None of newer products are designed around usage of a classic scripting languages (yes. none) or are as programmable as TEC (with its Prolog-based engine, where nothing is easy but everything is possible ;-).  Old Tivoli at least provided Perl 4 interpreter for all platforms it supported.  And Perl was used internally in various roles. This approach did not survived. IBM stresses Java and webservices now and this is an inferior approach. 

Netcool/Omnibus and Candle were successful competitors, but not necessarily the best technically. Both were  commercial products with a long development history (and Candle with mainframe baggage). That means that  architecturally both Netcool/Omnibus and Candle were a mess even before the acquisition, may be less the  mess then the old Tivoli line but still a mess.  For example Candle definitely suffers from its mainframe heritage.   

So first IBM brass demonstrated lack of technical vision with the indiscriminate acquisition of not  a single, most promising and technically advanced competitor, but two of them simultaneously.  Of course they badly wanted their client base and they got it. But now IBM is facing the problem of integration of overlapping products. So instead of leapfrogging competition IBM put itself in a situation of a technological laggard which desperately tries to defend its market share at all costs.

And that's not a good technical policy as marketplace has several alternative vendors, especially attractive for mid-size enterprises, which are not inclined to pay the steep licensing and maintenance fees on the strength on IBM brand name alone. In this market Tivoli is squeezed by products like HP Operations Center which have lower total cost of ownership and in case of  HP Operations Manager 9.0 higher quality, while retaining close or surpassing functionality.

Also in the current economic conditions cheap tricks like licensing product per core, or worse including number of cores in the calculation of the cost of maintenance became more visible and more annoying.  Why on the earth the price of the monitoring software should depend on the number of cores of the server on which it is deployed?  Is number of calls to product helpdesk correlates better with the number of cores or the number of nodes?  The next logical question after this one is often: What are my alternatives ? There is nothing surprising in the findings of the recent IDG survey, which moung other things have found the waning loyalty of a majority of users to their legacy ESM solution.

Small enterprises traditionally use open source products and typically are not part of IBM Tivoli market.  So mid-size, large companies and governments (which are more gullible then commercial companies)  are the only game at town for IBM. 

We will discuss several possible alternatives:

HP Operations Center

The attractiveness of HP offering as an alternative to Tivoli is that both architecturally, cost-wise skill-wise, and from the point of political correctness it is an acceptable solution for both corporate brass and people in the trenches. From all three viewpoint this is a very attractive solution.  Political correctness is very important for high level management which often are afraid of any radical change and might block switching to a smaller, more nimble Tivoli competitor. 

Even if IT is run by some despicable coward (which is actually a pretty typical situation ;-) you have chance to get his/her OK for such a switch.  All-in-all it is a higher quality product then classic Tivoli offering (with the exception of TEC correlation engine) with better GUI, stronger linux support, more reasonable licensing scheme, better quality and cheaper training courses  and approximately the same quality of tech support.

Previous version of the product was known under the more common name OpenView Operations (OVO) and this name is still used in the agent documentation.  There is a certain confusion and interchangeability in usage of the term of Operations Manager and Operations Center, althouth recently the term Operations Center is used an umbrella term that also includes SiteScope. For example prefix opc is used for many commands as well as user names which adds to the confusion.   Like any large corporation HP development has its problems, but still the product looks better engineered than classic Tivoli. It' more cost effective and HP have been known to negotiate “all you can eat licenses” with larger customers, where they are offered unlimited licenses over a particular time period (e.g. 5 years).

With HPOM version 9 network manager is a separate product and that reduced the cost of the server.  To cut costs for networking part you can use Nagios of other open source product. 

BMC Event Manager

This offering is very interesting and probably represents optimal alternative if (and only if) there was substantial efforts to develop custom correlation rules in TEC.  It provides a very smooth transition path that allows to save most of the know-how related to use of Prolog-style approach (which can be viewed as extended regular expressions) for event correlation.  BMC Event manager uses BAROC and similar rules but does not support native Prolog so this is not a perfect alternative if Prolog is used in rules, but this is rarely the case. Common rules are more or less easily convertible. See  Migrating to BMC Event Manager from IBM Tivoli Enterprise Console. for example

The following Tivoli Enterprise Console rule sets the severity of an incoming event of type AgentRestarted to “HARMLESS” if the event comes from host testserver.

rule:change_severity:(

	event: _event of_class 'AgentRestarted'
	where [ 
          hostname: equals 'testserver'
          ],
	reception_action:set_to_harmless:(
         bo_set_slotval(_event, 
	severity, 'HARMLESS'),
         re_mark_as_modified(_event)
    )

).
The same rule written in MRL would be:
refine change_severity:
AgentRestarted ($EV) where [$EV.hostname == testserver ]
{ $EV.severity = HARMLESS ;
} END

MRL uses specialized rules to cater to the different event management scenarios. Rules of type “refine” are used whenever an incoming event needs to be enriched. Specialized rules improve performance and make rules development much easier. “$EV” is an arbitrary variable name that acts as a pointer to the entire event structure. It makes the rule much more straightforward to write — and read.

BMC Event Manager also uses the same event format so messages from TEC adapters can be processed correctly.

 

Paradoxically both old TEC 3.9 (which will become unsupported in 2012) and BMC Event Manager can give a run to newer IBM product line for the money.  First of all TEC has huge amount of documentation and substantial amount of people trained in old infrastructure. Both products use Prolog as a rules writing language (preserving programmability) and simplifying rulebase migration.  While Prolog has multiple shortcomings it also has multiple strong points and it is unclear whether SQL-based correlation engines are superior (they are definitely simpler and that a huge positive point).

IBM lost the chance of integration of Prolog with Perl or using Python-based implementation of Prolog to increase flexibility (pure Prolog is more like straitjacket for simple cases and shine only in complex correlations, if and only if it is supported by qualified staff ). But that does not mean that competitors also need to sleep at the wheel like IBM did.

At the same time Tivoli State Correlation Engine does an excellent job for simple tasks. This, introduced by "classic Tivoli", dual correlation scheme has important advantages over any competitor with a one size fits all correlation engine. That's an area where Netcool is simply lacking althouth using SQL for event correlation is not a bad idea and it is more simple and straightforward approach then Prolog.  

In 2003 BMC   bought  IT Masters and turned it into BMC Event Manager (Formerly PATROL; see also BEM migration). BMC also owns Remedy and Prolog interpreter and as such have more complete stack of products.  Integration with Remedy is definitely a big plus.  Many customers have substantial investment in old TEC and some trained in the Prolog-based technology staff.  BMC Event Manager v7.1 supports Linux and UNIX platforms, as well as integrations to z/OS. 

BMC actually moved aggressively into the area with another key acquisitions and beat IBM not only in Prolog area. In late 2002 it bought service desk company Remedy, and IBM was left with nothing as for integration with helpdesk.

"Best of the breed" mix of low cost proprietary and open source scripting-friendly products

Monitoring became now commonplace solution and many hardware vendors provide useful well integrated solution for free or at minimal cost. One example is Dell.

Dell™ Management Console (DMC), powered by Altiris™ from Symantec™, is designed to address everything from basic hardware management applications to advanced enterprise management. DMC provides a single view into the deployment, inventory, monitoring and updating of your IT infrastructure, and creates a foundation for more advanced management functionality

Open source monitoring products are also adequate for most enterprise needs and are typically more scripting friendly. This creates tremendous advantage for IT if the monitoring product uses subset of Perl, PHP, JavaScript, Python or other full fledged scripting language as correlations rules language and LAMP stack as the base of their implementation.  IBM experience with Netcool has shown again that it's  difficult and time-consuming to integrate acquired technologies and to rationalize overextended product portfolio. This situation pose for IBM substantial marketing and sales challenges which can be exploited by nimble competitors who adopt scripting languages. For example, Perl now is used by any self-respected Unix administrator.

Weak point of open source vendors is that correlation usually is not supported so they probably cannot be used as a "pure play" for a large enterprise, but used in in tandem with product that provides correlation engine (licensed for minimal amount of nodes) they can dramatically lower the cost of acquisition and maintenance of the system if  hierarchical two level deployment is used with satellite open source monitoring servers reporting to the mothership with the correlation engine and event console.   This is one way you can defeat "payment for endpoint" model used by most large EMS vendors. See Unix System Monitoring. Among systems that might appeal for mid-side enterprises are (for more comprehensive list see Wikipedia/Comparison_of_network_monitoring_systems):

Promising startups

It looks like IBM is especially vulnerable in its scheduler offerings as both startups and established  players in enterprise space provide similar or better functionality as TWS for a fraction of the price. See Enterprise Job schedulers.

As enterprise scheduler marketplace became pretty crowded, there is no incentive to pay IBM high price for TWS when products with similar or better functionality can be acquired for a fraction of the cost. In this sense TWS is the most vulnerable product in IBM Tivoli line.

Competitors to Omicool/Omnibus with SQL based correlation engines

Event Management

Augur simultaneously collects and analyzes log entries, SNMP traps, application output, and proprietary protocols too.  The graphical rule engine processes events streams using your business rules, and then generates or clears root-cause alerts.

De-duplication, prioritization, and thresholding tools are all built in.  Plug-ins add data enrichment, external integrations, and any other customizations.

We tried to provide the flexibility of a “framework” system, with thoughtful features to make common tasks easier.  We think it’s a reasonable balance of power and ease.

Unified View

Alerts from all sources are automatically aggregated together and filtered according to your role-based configurations.  So you see just what you want, and your personnel see just what they need.

Workforce Dispatching

A full-featured paging notification system frees users from a screen so they can multi-task from anywhere.  The automation of workforce dispatching ensures consistent accountability, which ultimately benefits your service.  Fine-grained controls notify the right personnel based on alert type, location, schedule, and your business rules.

Enterprise-Class

In addition to Augur’s role-based access controls, its configuration is also secured by fine-grained permissions.  So you can safely share or delegate administration roles to trusted individuals or groups across your company.

When deployed as a distributed network, the cluster delivers the same views and configuration as if it were all one Augur, but with expandable capacity and the safety of network/geographic diversity.  The configuration database itself is a fault-tolerant high-availability pair that provide three tiers of protection.

Also nothing prevents you from exploring you own combination of open source products (with its model of free product, paid maintenance).  Right now several decent quality open source monitoring systems are free (Nagios).

Also several good quality schedulers are also free (Oracle scheduler, Open Source scheduler, etc).

Email infrastructure provides good event messaging with a email client as viewers. The latter in quality superior to any event enterprise console that I know. Responses might be implemented by forwarding message to predefined "actionable" email addresses.  

Enterprise customers want a stable vendor, complete coverage of enterprise flavor of Unix and Windows and high stability.  Here is list of considerations that might be worse to take into account during search for Tivoli alternatives:

  1. Availability of trial version (with or without support) and free download of documentation with a trial.  No amount of presentations can be compared to trail as for understanding strong and weak spots of the product and its suitability for the particular environment.  Free documentation to registered trial users is a must. If particular ISP don't provide that, avoid the product.
      

  2. Stability of the product and company. Switching from one architecture to another that happened with Tivoli due to acquisition is a bad sign. Gradual growth provides a better value unless we are talking about replacing a distinctly legacy system (but fashionable protocol like web services does not always provide a better value, or better stability). Public company with strong balance sheet is preferred. Ability to survive in difficult economic environment (say in 2001-2003 or 2008-2010) by growing customer base is an important positive sign.

    Maintaining large and complex ESM application codebase (for example monitoring system or scheduler) is expensive and at the same time very boring activity that needs flow of funds from a large customer base. That's Catch 22 for startups.  May be in a decade ESM products will became  "off the shelf" products (priced hundred or thousand time more then Microsoft office, but with much simpler codebase :-) with just a few players who managed to grab a significant market share that provides the opportunity to fund the maintenance of existing versions and further development.  Overcomplexity is expensive to develop and maintain and that Catch 22 for large ESM developers. That's one of the reason why commercial applications usually command pretty high price :-). 
     

  3. Reasonable resource requirements (a single server should be able of service at least a thousand nodes; that means that HTTPS connectivity or agentless SSH-based approach in not always such a good thing as it looks in marketing presentations ;-). Much depends on the number of nodes. One hundred SSL connections per minute is a "slum dunk", but 1K SSL connections per minute is  not easy to accommodate.
     

  4. Broad platform coverage should include AIX 5.3 and 6.1, HP-UX 11, Solaris 9 and 10, RHEL 4 and 5 and SLES 10Large organization often have all flavor Unix in existence and if not buying a couple of companies is just one step to bringing unsuspecting IT public to this situation :-). 
     

  5. Quality of tech support. That's a very important metric. You can say dirty things about tech. quality of Tivoli product line all day long but they are by and large compensated by really high level of tech support that IBM provides. In this sense you might think specifically about "low ball" offerings" as it is difficult from a small revenue stream to fund really excellent 24*7 tech support desk. Some medium size developers of ESM products solve this problem by allowing to escalate complex  tickets to developers and that is preferable solution.
     

  6. Price competitiveness with Tivoli on 10 year basis (total cost of ownership can be approximated as

    1.2*initial_license_cost + 2*esimated_transition_costs + 10*annual_maintenance_costs

    Please note that people often underestimate transition costs by factor of 3 or more. That's why I doubled it in the equation above .  Also even in cases were organization has bought complete junk it is difficult to get rid of it in less then five years (or a major acquisition). That's why maintenance costs has factor 10 in the equation above.  That means that the ability to negotiate a stable cost of maintenance into the contract should be an important consideration (at least the ability to break contact, if cost of maintenance exceeds certain threshold).
     

  7. Scripting friendliness, specifically "admin friendly" handling of custom Perl probes.
     

  8. Level of integration between scheduler and monitoring (that might add to the cost of transition if it requires services of a professional services organization to create such a bridge)
     

  9. Extensibility of  dashboard  (nothing fancy; simple ability to tune triggers, etc)
     

  10. Presence of flexible event console (dashboard are not enough). Ability to launch custom, event specific scripts from the even console.
     

  11. Simplicity of administration; uniformity of components across the product line (unlike suits of products that were the result of multiple acquisitions like Netcool-Omnibus-classic Tivoli combo that IBM now sells).
     

  12. Programmable correlation (in memory SQL-based is OK, See   Event Correlation Technologies)
     

  13. Strong Unix-monitoring bias. Universal agent based products are preferable to agentless solutions although ssh based solution might be considered.
     

  14. Ability to process Unix syslog and extract alerts from logs (either locally or via central syslog server).
     

  15. Good integration with your backup solution.
     

  16. Some level of "knowledge integration" via event archive or external connection to helpdesk  software

Another problem is IBM hype. When IT is supporting a vital business service and problems occurs without ESM products there is no clear feedback for those in charge of those business services as for to why that has occurred. Businesses want both value and predictability from IT.  Traditional PR-staff  used by IBM such as 'five 9s availability' don't mean very much to any intelligent IT manager.  He understands that this is a myth and he starts to distrust the company and its products.  

Another myth is the importance of "real time" correlation (Netcool advertisement campaign against IBM was actually based on this claim; paradoxically it actually worked pretty well for them in a long run :-).  First of all not all correlation is created equal: pre-filtering (duplicates removal, etc) can really be done at very high speeds by specialized software and "old" Tivoli actually provided this function on gateways. It was not widely used but that's another story.  More complex correlation does not need and usually does not benefit from tremendous speed. Also at very large organizations problems are regional in nature and that means that there is a hierarchical set of regional servers  reporting to central "super-server". Each regional server can be specialized to particular environment and have tuned for the environment set of correlation rules, as problems in Asia are usually different that problems in North America.  A dozen events per second is actually an adequate speed for pretty large enterprises. Moreover higher speed can be  a sign of deficient architecture (as in Netcool's single level correlation engine) and as such is more of a warning sign then an advantage. 

The difference between "pre-filtering and deep correlation means that advertisements  about a particular correlation engine based on the claims that it can process tremendous amount of events per second  (MicrHPOMse used to boast about "thousands of events per second") are pretty stupid and tell something negative about the quality of the architecture.

Proliferation of ESM systems signals a fundamental change in the way that the IT systems management function is structured in large enterprises and moves large part of administration and management outside single OS framework (some Unix distributions, for example Suse 11 actually contain server based monitoring package  -- Nagios 3.0 in  case of Suse).  While traditionally systems have been managed along technology lines - with different groups for PCs, servers, networks, databases, ESM provides an opportunity to view them more along functional lines. For example, subset of systems serving to SAP/R3 usually includes both servers, networking equipment and PCs.  For business owner it does not matter whether the problem is with networking or with the server: all he sees is that order take too slow to enter and the system is sluggish.  and that created the question of integration of event streams from the appropriate subset of events and correlation between them The large systems management vendors certainly see the potential for additional revenue here. BMC Software, Mercury Interactive, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Computer Associates are all broadening their portfolios. But they tend to balkanize their line by trying to extract additional revenue and thus they are adding to existing over-complexity of their products. 

From another point of view vertical integration means that the loop is not complete unless the helpdesk desk software is tied in, so that problems are managed, diagnosed, prioritized and later analyzed based of stored history to avoid reoccurrences. In this sense absence of strong links between Tivoli and helpdesk software is a problem for IBM that definitely can be exploited by competitors. 

This "overcomplexity trap" does provide a breezing space for smaller more nibble players, who can better utilize the recent advances both in hardware and technology and first of all scripting languages and HTTP protocol. Also it usually takes at least a decade for the technology to mature and that means that ESM systems are no longer  young (first ESM systems can into being around 1996) and  some consolidation and drops in pricing are on the agenda. 

The goal of ESM is to relate problem with end users to a particular part of IT infrastructure as quickly as and as precisely as possible is still illusive. It's still difficult to pinpoint real problem behind symptoms but at least the view of symptoms can now be well organized and monitored in real time. Especially difficult are to pinpoint the problems that directly impart performance. So for enterprise it is important to know were to stop and not to overpay for unrealistic claims about products or services promoted by "slick suits" who does not understand the technology they are pushing, but understand very well the weaknesses of IT management ;-).

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Aug 07, 2010] Best Practices for IBM Tivoli Enterprise Console to Netcool/OMNIbus Upgrade

The acquisition of MicrHPOMse® Inc. brings new opportunities for all involved in IBM® Systems Management discipline, and the development of a new and exciting strategy.

This IBM Redbooks® publication should be used when planning and implementing an integration and upgrade strategy from TEC to OMNIbus. In this book we provide recommended best practices and describe strategies for upgrading existing installations in a way that should best suit the needs of existing TEC-based environments.

The audience for this book is anyone involved in the Systems Management discipline, but it applies primarily to both those with a Tivoli or Netcool background, and is aimed at customers with an existing Tivoli Enterprise Console® investment who are looking to evaluate the comparative characteristics of TEC and Netcool/OMNIbus™ , so that they can perform a system upgrade.

Depending on the complexity of the existing environment and the depth of the requirements, this upgrade could be a significant project, but we aim with this book to make it as straightforward and as successful as possible.

We have structured the book to first introduce a quick overview of the products, highlighting the key benefits of Netcool/OMNIbus so that both audiences can become familiar with the different concepts. Then the architectures of both products are discussed in more detail, concluding with some typical scenarios.

Part 2, "Strategies” on page101, reviews planning and strategy. It begins with detailed guidelines on assessing the existing customer environment in order to identify how TEC is currently deployed. We discuss considerations to make and how to plan the activities required to upgrade. Then different upgrade scenarios are presented with a best practice recommendation that the reader can adapt to his environment.

At this point we would like to stress that this book builds on the utilities provided by the Tivoli and Netcool Integration Event Flow package (downloadable from the IBM OPAL Web site), and the recommendations from the Tivoli & Netcool Event Flow Integration white paper. The main distinction is that they cover various event integration scenarios, whereas we, in addition, map out a complete upgrade path to OMNIbus in our recommended strategy.

The implementation of the suggested strategy is then covered in Chapter 2, "Configuring the event sources” on page277. We describe in detail the steps required to achieve the upgrade with the core components, and discuss other tasks to also keep in mind. A wide range of different rule processing examples are provided, giving comparative and practical guidance, providing a valuable asset for the rule programmer.

Finally, additional technical details on configurations and scripts used and other valuable references can be found in Appendix 2, "Lab configuration” on page367.

Table of contents

Part 1. Overview
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Architecture
Part 2. Strategies
Chapter 3. TEC environmental assessment and planning guidelines
Chapter 4. Upgrade strategies
Part 3. Implementation
Chapter 5. Upgrading to an IBM Tivoli Netcool environment
Chapter 6. Event processing
Chapter 7. Configuring the event sources
Appendix A. Lab configuration
Appendix B. Additional material

[Aug 06, 2010] OpenNMS beat HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli Joe's Soap Box

Mar 07, 2007 | Joe's Soap Box

Noticed that OpenNMS, an opensource systems management software is the winner of the Search Networking - Product Leadership Awards 2007 for Network and IT management platforms.

I am impressed because they managed to beat HP (OpenView) and IBM (Tivoli). Pretty neat for an opensource product.

[Apr 14, 2009] Event Correlation Server (ECS) Security Download PC World

Jan 13, 2006 | PC World
Description of Event Correlation Server (ECS)
The Event Correlation Server (ECS) is a Network Security Management platform that receives events as inputs from many different sources and management protocols, processes them through complex correlation filters, and forwards them to outbound destinations, such as network and security management consoles. ECS enables OEMs, VARs, and end-users to quickly develop event correlation solutions, and sell them as separate value-added products. EventGnosis ECS is a security information management server application, which performs real-time event correlation, event aggregation and archiving, protocol conversion and transaction validation, forensic and transaction data analysis, as well as audit and accountability management. Network Security Management (also known as Security Information Management or Security Event Management) is an emerging market for applications, which analyse separate events from different application sources and devices, and forwards the results to other management systems. The examples of network security applications that are used as the sources of EventGnosis ECS are firewalls, virus checkers, intrusion detection systems, web services (e.g. transactions between businesses using XML and SOAP data encoding), and other network and security applications. EventGnosis ECS is the industry standard Event Management Markup Language (EMML) development environment for designing, editing and debugging enterprise class real-time event correlation applications involving network and security software systems, business applications, physical and electronic security systems, financial trading systems, environmental systems, classified systems, and fraud avoidance systems. EventGnosis Inc. promotes and sells third party software solutions powered by EventGnosis ECS, through its web site www.eventgnosis.com, as the value-added security event management products for ECS.

[Apr 12, 2009] Augur Systems Event Manager Compare Tivoli-Netcool

Netcool Relational Database

Netcool uses a (mostly) standard SQL database. Netcool rules scripts update fields in this database. Triggers and Impact policies also interact with this database.

Pro: Databases provide uniform access. Netcool users can write Perl scripts to interact with the database (although this is unsupported). You can extend the database schema to add your own fields for implementing complex rules.

Con: Database field sizes are limited, so data may be truncated. Basic, intermediate, and advanced customizations require DB Admin skills.

Netcool Rule Scripts

Netcool uses a script language to parse events for generating/clearing alerts in the Omnibus database. A rule script is essentially a large if/then/else structure, with parsed variables. Scripts can be broken into “include” files. “Lookup” files for variable replacement are supported too.

Pro: Scripts are comfortable for experts to edit, and foster programatic tools like “m2r” (MIB to rules). An IDE helps with syntax checking, etc. There is a large library of existing rule scripts, although they may need customization for your needs.

Con: As the scripts get long, they can be difficult to maintain and debug. Maintenance may require a full-time expert. Rule sets may require additional fees. Rule script files are difficult to delegate to multiple subject matter experts for administration. Events that clear alerts may need to reference built-in or custom database fields (e.g. “class”), which can be difficult to document. Lookups are limited to text files.

... ... ...

Netcool Administration

Netcool is configured via a combination of files and GUIs.

Pro:File editing is comfortable for Unix admins.

Con: Limited ability to delegate configuration duties. Changes may require ‘kill -HUP’ command line signals or restarts. Limited support for multiple administrators or simultaneous editing.

[Apr 12, 2009] Augur

This is a Java based system. Live DB is proprietary. See a good write-up of differences with Netcool in Augur Systems Event Manager Compare Tivoli-Netcool
Event Management

Augur simultaneously collects and analyzes log entries, SNMP traps, application output, and proprietary protocols too. The graphical rule engine processes events streams using your business rules, and then generates or clears root-cause alerts.

De-duplication, prioritization, and thresholding tools are all built in. Plug-ins add data enrichment, external integrations, and any other customizations.

We tried to provide the flexibility of a “framework” system, with thoughtful features to make common tasks easier. We think it’s a reasonable balance of power and ease.

Unified View

Alerts from all sources are automatically aggregated together and filtered according to your role-based configurations. So you see just what you want, and your personnel see just what they need.

Workforce Dispatching

A full-featured paging notification system frees users from a screen so they can multi-task from anywhere. The automation of workforce dispatching ensures consistent accountability, which ultimately benefits your service. Fine-grained controls notify the right personnel based on alert type, location, schedule, and your business rules.

Enterprise-Class

In addition to Augur’s role-based access controls, its configuration is also secured by fine-grained permissions. So you can safely share or delegate administration roles to trusted individuals or groups across your company.

When deployed as a distributed network, the cluster delivers the same views and configuration as if it were all one Augur, but with expandable capacity and the safety of network/geographic diversity. The configuration database itself is a fault-tolerant high-availability pair that provide three tiers of protection.

Rivermusings

IT Operations Management

Posted: January 30th, 2009 | Author: Phil Blades | Filed under: Market, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

IT Operations Management (ITOM) has become a major industry since the development of the first SNMP management systems and event consolidation alerting tools in the late 1980’s. Originally ITOM was solely the domain of technology in the guise of fault monitoring systems. However over the last 20 years the realm has expanded across Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance and Security (FCAPS) to offer a whole of IT Infrastructure suite of management technologies, and then with the proliferation of the adoption of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process guidelines, the IT department has been given IT Service Management (ITSM), the integration of ITIL Process guidelines and ITOM technology platforms to increase the levels of service from their IT Infrastructures.

The practice of ITSM by the management of IT Operations is devoted solely to reducing the cost of managing their IT infrastructures, and cost savings can be demonstrated on paper through the deployment of FCAPS technologies in conjunction with Processes following ITIL guidelines. In 2007, according to Gartner Group, greater than 85% of medium and large enterprise companies have embraced a commitment to implementing ITIL guidelines, and Network2 claims that in 2007 the global spend on network and systems management technology was over $10 Billion dollars.

Despite this global investment in defined processes and supporting technology, when Gartner Group surveyed their customer base at their Data Center conference in November 2007, the need to troubleshoot problems faster and prevent performance problems still came out as the top two issues. The reason troubleshooting problems faster and averting performance issues consistently rank at the top of CIOs wish list is simple to comprehend; the results of IT Infrastructure problems are transparent to their customers.

- NetworkWorld reported that 82% of network problems are identified through users complaining about application performance.

- Apparent Networks demonstrated in their testing that 38% of 20,000 helpdesk issues showed that network issues translated directly to application issue calls.

- Telus Corporation even admitted that 78% of network problems are beyond their control [with today’s IT Operations Management technologies].

So, for an enterprise, the ability to change the perception of their customers by fixing problems sooner and providing more consistent application performance is paramount. This is the domain of the Fault Management technology platform. When a problem occurs, there is a corresponding impact upon the customers’ business operations. That impact carries a cost which is both measurable and real.

The cost of impact to each customer can be attributed to the time taken to resolve the problem. Therefore, if one can resolve the problem more quickly, one can reduce the impact and associated cost of the problem. Problem management has four clear phases:

(i) IT Infrastructure State Changes; the circumstances leading to the problem
(ii) Problem Identification; the knowledge that there is a problem
(iii) Problem Isolation; the isolation of the Root Cause, and
(iv) Problem Resolution; the return to normal operations

There is a fifth phase too which is Problem Impact; the ability to understand what Services and which Customers are impacted by the problem, but this is not the directly impact the cost of a problem to a business, just allows the measurement of the cost, and would allow prioritization of the fault management process – i.e. focus resources on one problem over another. The more quickly the IT Operations team can resolve a problem, the better the perception by their customer.

The application of automation to accelerate the problem identification and isolation process reduces the total time taken to resolve the problem, thereby reducing the cost of the impact of the problem, and so, Fault Management technology, in the form of Event Consolidation, Correlation and Root-Cause Analysis (RCA) solutions represent the major spend in an IT Operations Management budget.

Business, both Telecom and Enterprise, have employed an array of automation technologies to help identify problems sooner, isolate the root cause, and align problem management processes to reduce the time to resolve the issues which include:

- Network monitoring tools;

- Enterprise Event Consoles;

- Service Desk solutions;

All of these technologies conceived, designed and, developed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s however still represent the pinnacle of IT Service Management technology innovation and expertize today. In fact, they now represent huge industries in themselves, with a whole supply chain evolved for the design, implementation, configuration and lifecycle maintenance of each tool.

Yet despite the investment in these tools and technologies, the ability for IT Operations Management to resolve problems faster has not eventualized. In fact, the cost of Problem Impact is the same today as it was in the 1990’s.

[Mar 10, 2008] Gulf Breeze Blog SCEProlog - Prolog for the State Based Correlation Engine

A new release of OpenESM for Prolog (V1.1) is now available at Sourceforge. This new release includes a Prolog engine for the TEC 3.9 State Based Correlation Engine (SCE).

You can download the new release at:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/gulfsoft

Here are some notes from the Readme:

SCEProlog - Prolog for the State Based Correlation Engine

This library implements a Prolog environment as a State Based Correlation Engine custom action. Why would you want to use Prolog at the TEC Gateway or adapter level? Firstly, a Prolog environment would allow you to leverage most of your existing Prolog facts and logic that enrich events before true event correlation. Secondly, the Prolog language provides a flexible and powerful language to manipulate event objects. Finally, since Prolog is the base language for the TEC rule language, it is familiar to every seasoned TEC rule writers.

The underlying Prolog implementation for SCEProlog is GNU Prolog for Java (http://gnuprologjava.sourceforge.net/) by Constantine A. Plotnikov. While this project seems stagnant, I found it the simplest to integrate with the State Based Correlation Engine. Included with this distribution is the gnuprolog.jar file. If you desire to see the source of the GNU Prolog for Java library it is available for download from the original project website.

The SCEProlog environment implements the most of the ISO standard with the following additional predicates:

BIM Prolog compatability:
lowertoupper(LowerAtom,UpperAtom)
inttoatom(Integer,Atom)
realtoatom(Real,Atom)
atomconcat(Atom1,Atom2,Concat)
atomconcat(AtomList,Concat)
append(List1,List2,ApendedList)
member(Element,List)
memberchk(Element,List)
erase(Key)
erase(Key1,Key2)
record(Key,Term)
record(Key1,Key2,Term)
recorded(Key,Term)
recorded(Key1,Key2,Term)
rerecord(Key,Term)
rerecord(Key1,Key2,Term)

State based Correlation Engine:
set_event_class(ClassName)
get_event_class(ClassName)
set_event_slot(SlotName,SlotValue)
get_event_slot(SlotName,SlotValue)
get_event_slot(SlotName,SlotValue,DefualtValueIfNotSet)
delete_event_slots(SlotNameList)
discard_event
forward_event(SCE_RuleName_List)
get_rule_id(SCE_RuleId)
get_rule_variable(SCE_VariableName,VariabeValue)

IP Address Name Resolution:
get_hostname(IPAddress_or_Name,Hostname)
get_ipaddress(Hostname,IPAddress)
get_local_hostname(LocalHostname)
get_local_ipaddress(LocalIPAddress)
get_canonical_hostname(IPAddress_or_Name,CanonicalHostname)

Regular Expressions:
regex_create(RegexID,Pattern)
regex_create(RegexID,Pattern,RegexFlagList)
valid RegexFlag values:
canon_eq,
case_insensitive,
comments,
dotall,
multiline,
unicode_case,
unix_lines
regex_exists(RegexID)
regex_match(RegexID,Atom)
regex_match(RegexID,Atom,GroupMatchList)
regex_replace(RegexID,Atom,Replacement,Result)

Misc. Utilities:
get_system_property(JavaSystemProperty,PropertyValue)

You can see the rest of the notes in the readme that is part of the gb_08MAR2006.zip file

[Nov 21, 2008] RiverMuse Emerging from Stealth Mode by doug

See also Initial presentation at OSS Professionals

Event Processing — dougmcclure.net

This open source start up is unveiling their exciting message and pre-release web site for what could be an industry changing tipping point that firmly places open source as a viable alternative to the “Big4″ and the “Other 6″ within any sized company in any industry.

RiverMuse has launched their website and has plans for initial software availability in early November. RiverMuse (Riversoft and MicrHPOMse) is the brainchild of the founders of the MicrHPOMse and the industry recognized Netcool/OMNIbus solution.

Here’s a snip from their website - clearly positioning their product at those who’ve made significant investments in or are considering Netcool/OMNIbus technology with promises of a brighter future, improved architecture and a roadmap that if delivered would easily place this open source alternative in the leader’s quadrant of any analyst’s market assessment.

Their plans for putting the administrators first is AWESOME. They get the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) issue with the Big4 and Other6. They’re putting that first OVER any current buzzword bingo (ITIL, ISM, SOA, Green, and yes even BSM - Mike and I need to have more heart to heart talks on that!). Run the numbers in any decent sized monitoring shop and look at the staff and maintenance costs (HW and SW) and you’ll see that something has to be done in the next decade of IT management and monitoring. Do more with less, smarter, cheaper (free) tools, products and solutions as a competitive differentiator (and job security).

That is, if they can deliver. Some that I’ve talked to advised me that “they’d believe it when they see it”. I spoke with Mike a couple months back and took away the sense of a solid vision and plan to execute against. I’d love to hear about some big wins, replacements or other success (benchmarks against Netcool/OMNIbus, OpenNMS, HPOV, EMC/SMARTS, BMC, etc.). I’ve signed up for the software and look forward to kicking the tires!

RiverMuse for IBM Tivoli Netcool Owners

(IBM Tivoli Netcool Omnibus / MicrHPOMse Netcool Omnibus, Cisco InfoCenter)

What a great product – we think so, we originally conceived, designed and built Netcool as an antidote to the offerings of the day. However, we never finished it and, neither did the people who inherited MicrHPOMse after we left, nor have [or will] IBM. The issue is Netcool’s discombobulated configuration methods that lead to an ownership Tax on you, the customer.

Although Netcool is undoubtedly the best-of-the-best Legacy Event Management system, having invented:

* the Exclusive event paradigm
* automatic repeat filtering ‘de-duplication’
* drag and drop correlation, and
* simplified event enrichment

Netcool hobbles around on a major Achilles Heel. Namely, the more filtering and correlation, the more embedded complexity in the platform since Netcool has three different configuration programming languages that have no configuration integrity. Consequently, the more you use Netcool the higher the Total Cost of Ownership gets.

RiverMuse offers the same out of the box functionality as Netcool, however with a thoroughly modern architecture, configuration is easier to perform and maintain offering a significantly lower total cost of ownership. Oh, and did we tell you the core RiverMuse FreeCool is free?

RiverMuse will gradually introduce migration tools for Netcool customers, initially we’ll enable our customers to consuming Netcool Probe events, and in the future, RiverMuse will launch a ‘Netcool Configuration Conversion’ tool to simplify migrations of Probe Rules and ObjectServer Triggers and Actions.

[Feb 14, 2007] Monolith Software

Monolith Software understands that you've had your MicrHPOMse system for a while. We also understand that the process of migrating platforms may raise some anxiety. Monolith Software is the first legitimate solution that can not only replace Netcool Omnibus, but also improve upon its functionality. Until now your options have been limited and those that have positioned a replacement are dictating a whole new methodology and approach to your operations process (i.e. SMARTS).

Monolith Event Manager does not change the way your operations group works. The system has been designed to work with your existing processes and procedures. We have tools to help our customers migrate their existing rules and scripts thereby ensuring not only a seamless transition, but also reuse of your existing intellectual capital.

Top Reasons You'll Love our Solution

If your maintenance renewal is approaching or if you are looking for a solution that addresses many of Netcool's shortcomings, then we'd encourage you to take a look at Monolith. Innovation is alive and well in the management space. Ask us about our special promotion for Netcool Migrations.

[Apr 17, 2006] Investors seek network-management innovation - Network World By Cara Garretson

April 17, 2006 (Network World) Special Focus: Start-ups seeking to challenge the dominance of complex network management suites draw rounds of funding.

Start-up companies looking to challenge the dominance enjoyed by expensive, complex network-management suites are attracting second and third rounds of funding from venture capitalists eager to get in on the next big thing.

In particular, investors are putting money into companies with network-monitoring and -troubleshooting products that are attracting customers who want to care for their networks without the cost and dedicated staff demanded by CA's Unicenter, IBM's Tivoli and HP's OpenView - typically considered the leading products in this market.

Start-ups Cittio, Splunk and GroundWork Open Source Solutions have received a combined $35 million in the past 13 months, and a fourth company called LogLogic says it will soon announce a third round of investment, following the $13 million it received in September 2004 (see graphic). Attracting investors to companies such as these is the promise of a new generation of network-management tools that may be innovative and nimble enough to eventually supplant the incumbent.

Importance of solid net management

Broadly defined, network management is a $3.5 billion market, says Benjamin Nye, managing director of venture capital with Bain Capital in Boston. As networks become more distributed physically and populated with devices, network management is more important than ever, he says.

"Think about the distributed organization today; it's the norm, not the exception," Nye says. "Whether you're big or small, if you're running a mission-critical network, look at how many different devices are resident on the network. . . . There's much more dependency that rides on that network."

In February 2005, Bain invested $12 million in Network Intelligence, which sells software that monitors and reports on network events for security and compliance purposes.

Managing the increased complexity in the network calls for a new breed of simpler, sleeker tools, some investors say.

Despite his extensive background in network management, Marc Sokol, CA's former vice president of marketing and now a partner at venture capital firm JK&B Capital in Chicago, waited six years before investing in a network-monitoring start-up.

"It's because the big guys - Unicenter, Tivoli and OpenView - commanded such market control," he says. "But today there's a large market of customers that for lots of different reasons consider the Big Three not to be options - either the license fee priced them out of the market, or the cost of implementation or the customer just didn't need all those features."

At the end of March, JK&B invested $8 million in Cittio, maker of network-monitoring and -operations software called WatchTower. In January, the firm invested $10 million in Splunk, which creates a search engine that helps troubleshoot systems by navigating through the logs they create. Sokol has taken a seat on the board of directors of both companies.

Cittio breaks out of the traditional network-management mold by offering a critical management function, monitoring, that's relatively inexpensive and easily integrates with third-party products, Sokol says.

"I think there's now a need for disintegration among [network-management components]," Sokol says. "Because of new service-oriented architectures and the [Asynchronous JavaScript + XML] user interface, you can get the benefits of integration without having to sell an all-in-one product."

A streamlined approach

While Cittio and other companies offer more streamlined approaches to network monitoring, enterprises are usually hesitant to bet on products from start-ups, especially for a task as crucial as keeping the network running.

"That's always going to be the challenge" for start-ups, says James Governor, principal analyst with RedMonk. To get around this hurdle, start-ups need to partner with bigger vendors that can introduce them to customers and, to some extent, vouch for them. Or, as in Cittio's case, they need to focus on one aspect of a larger market.

"Cittio has very explicitly stated they don't offer all the functions that larger vendors offer, but they're trying to define a sweet spot," Governor says.

Some organizations are willing to take their chances with products from start-ups to get the features they need at an affordable price.

The National Parks Conservation Association chose Cittio's WatchTower network-monitoring tool so the IT department can find trouble spots on the network, says Caterina Luppi, the nonprofit organization's IT director.

"We didn't have anything before, and that created a number of problems," Luppi says. "The users were being our alarm system; we were finding out something wasn't working, because there was a user complaining."

The Washington, D.C.-based organization, which has about 85 users on its network, uses IT products from a diverse group of vendors; Luppi chose Cittio's WatchTower because it gives the LAN administrator a single point from which to monitor them all.

Cittio's tool also is relatively inexpensive, an important consideration for a nonprofit group, she says. According to company officials, WatchTower is priced at between $200 and $400 per node, depending on number of nodes managed.

"The big network-management suites were totally out of our budget, and I don't have the manpower to use 100% of their features," Luppi says. "That would be like buying a truck and using it as a bike."

Other network-monitoring and -troubleshooting tools from relative newcomers also are making inroads.

Splunk, which approaches network management by helping IT staff find the proverbial needle in a haystack, says 35,000 people have downloaded its search engine since it launched in August 2005. The company's Splunk Professional search software filters through all the logs and other data generated by IT systems, devices and applications so problems can be found and fixed faster, according to the company. It is priced at $2,500 for an annual license.

LogLogic also attempts to enhance network troubleshooting by capturing logs from all of a corporation's hardware and software in what it calls a log-management intelligence platform. Delivered as an appliance, LogLogic lets customers analyze, store, generate reports on data for compliance and risk mitigation, company officials say. The LogLogic Compliance Suite starts at $10,000.

Log data more relevant

While he doesn't see log management falling under the definition of network management, RedMonk's Governor says companies such as LogLogic, Splunk and others are making log data more relevant for network managers.

"Network management tends to be real time; log management is after the fact - it's more about looking at what happened and analyzing that," Governor says. "These companies are making log management more of a real-time function, and then it becomes more valuable. It's moving from being a subset of security management to more of an application-management function."

Another company, GroundWork Open Source Solutions, is positioning its IT monitoring tool as costing a fraction of what commercial products go for. GroundWork Monitor Professional, based on open source components, including Nagios, RRDTool and MySQL, gives customers a central point for monitoring applications, databases, servers and network equipment, officials say.

GroundWork Monitor Professional costs about $16,000 for an annual subscription and is installed at "hundreds of enterprises," according to company officials.

gartner_enterprise-event-mgmt-magic-quadrant

[PDF] Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Event Management, 2003 Enterprise ...

You should not generally believe Gartner :-)

PerformanceIT Management Software Gets AIX Agents

PerformanceIT, which peddles the ProIT line of system management tools that integrate application, systems, and network performance management tools into a single entity, announced last week that it has launched ProIT Version 3.1, which includes management agents for IBM's AIX 5L 5.1, 5.2, and 5.3 operating systems running on pSeries and RS/6000 servers. The new version of the software also has a feature called Impact Analyzer, which can measure the effect of actual network changes on overall performance of the IT infrastructure or model the effect of proposed network changes on the way infrastructure performs.

ProIT competed with BMC Software's Patrol, IBM's Tivoli, and Hewlett-Packard's OpenView system management programs. The ProIT software is roughly priced based on the number of servers it controls, and costs under $50,000 for the typical user, which PerformanceIT says is a lot lower than the $150,000 or more that the typical customer using the above mentioned performance management suites tend to pay. The software runs on Windows, Unix, and Linux platforms.

http--www.networkworld.com-news-2005-052305-bmc.html

BMC overhauls management software

By Denise Dubie, Network World, 05/23/05

At management software vendor BMC, these days it's all about streamlining.

The company last month said it is shedding 12% of its staff to tighten expenses in the face of disappointing revenue. And this month BMC says it is revamping its product line, consolidating previously separate software packages and simplifying licensing.

The company this year and next will eliminate the Patrol brand it has touted since acquiring the system management technology in 1994 and reinvent its product portfolio under the moniker Performance Manager. Among the new offerings planned is Performance Manager for Servers, a combination of Patrol for Unix and Patrol for Windows.

The changes won't be in name alone. BMC has redesigned its core software so customers get agent-based and agentless products under the same license. Previously, customers needed to buy agent-based Patrol and agentless Patrol Express separately.

Products within the Performance Manager line also will share a database, a console for configuration and provisioning, and a user interface for reporting.

"The trend right now among management vendors is to fix all the installation, integration and performance problems in their existing tools and supplement them with features to help IT managers get a consistent way to measure performance and availability across their network infrastructure, security and applications," says George Hamilton, a senior analyst at The Yankee Group.

Industry watchers say BMC needed to do something to breathe life into its $1.4-billion business. It announced last month that preliminary revenue estimates for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2005, ended March 31, would fall below expectations, at $388 million to $400 million, down from the previous forecast of $410 million to $425 million. BMC cited customers' delayed spending as a reason for the lower revenue.

"BMC, and in particular Computer Associates, this year really have to prove they are going to deliver on their product plans to customers to maintain their installed bases," Hamilton adds.

That includes sorting out and integrating technologies acquired from Calendra, Marimba and OpenNetwork to fill out its long-term business service management strategy. BMC has named Tom Bishop, formerly with Vieo and Tivoli, to lead its technology direction as CTO.

"It's important BMC streamline it's technology because management tools can be expensive, and it needs to keep its customers as the market is going to continue to consolidate," says Lance Travis, a vice president with AMR Research. "The redesigned Patrol will also better serve the company's bigger plans of [business service management] in the long term."

In an attempt to make its software more attractive, BMC is focusing on basics, such as easing installation.

Performance Manager, using provisioning technology BMC acquired via Marimba last July, will distribute agents only to servers that require higher-level management and will do so automatically based on customer configurations. Patrol depended on centralized server software, and required an agent be installed on every managed server to deliver on its performance and availability-management promises. Patrol Express was designed without agents to help customers remotely manage systems at branch offices.

BMC customer Marc Machin, senior systems engineer at Lender's Service in Santa Ana, Calif., says he's looking forward to the upcoming changes.

"Anything that could lighten the footprint of management software on a machine would be welcome," says Machin, who maintains six consoles for Patrol applications across a network of 150 Windows servers. "I'd still like an agent on certain servers to automatically take an action or react to an event, but there are more servers that don't need agents than there are ones that do."

In June, BMC says it will start to offer its single-license model to customers under the new brand, and in December the company expects to start shipping new products with the architecture.

All contents copyright 1995-2005 Network World, Inc. http://www.networkworld.com BMC Revs Management Tool
August 18, 2003
By Paula Musich

BMC Software Inc. this week will launch the MasterCell technology it acquired last April with the acquisition of IT Masters Inc. under a new moniker and with further integration into BMC's management tools.

The Houston company's new Service Impact Manager, which automatically links IT assets with the business services they support, detects changes in the status of those assets and communicates the impact of those changes to targeted users, according to Mark Levy, director of product management for BMC.

The updated software includes new integration with Patrol Enterprise Manager, allowing it to gather event data from BMC's Event Manager. It can also integrate with other event management systems, such as IBM's Tivoli Enterprise Console, and with BMC's Remedy trouble-ticketing system.

"The Patrol integration was enhanced to make it easier to integrate existing systems managed by Patrol," said Gary Davis, product manager for Service Impact Manager.

BMC split up the event management function in the original MasterCell tool to create a separate Event Manager, which will also be launched this week. Event Manager collects, processes and automates events from the IT infrastructure, automatically reducing redundant events. It displays results in user-customized views, based on roles and preferences, and feeds the results to Service Impact Manager to aid in prioritizing IT response to outages.

"It does let you see the relationship between a particular asset or a process ... and how events will affect other things because of those relationships," said John Siniawski, senior partner at Renovance LLP, in Chicago. "In the old days, you'd get a Tivoli alert, and it tells you the IP address of the problem but gives you no visualization of how it affects things."

Service Impact Manager is available now in a new service starter pack that includes the infrastructure, console and predefined service components for $80,000. Event Manager's pricing starts at $50,000.

BMC Software Broadens Management Capabilities with Acquisition of IT Masters

HOUSTON - (March 25, 2003) - BMC Software, Inc., [NYSE: BMC], a leader in enterprise management, today announced that it has acquired IT Masters International S.A., an enterprise management solutions company, for approximately $42 million. The acquisition further strengthens BMC Software's market leading Service Level Management solutions by adding adaptive service management capabilities to BMC Software's leading enterprise-wide offerings. The acquisition adds approximately 75 IT Masters employees to BMC Software.

IT Masters is a privately-held company with software development offices in Belgium and Austin, Texas. The company develops service management technology that allows customers to model and visualize IT infrastructure components correlated with the ultimate services being delivered. With this technology, IT organizations can prioritize their work according to their company's critical business needs. Specifically, customers can prioritize problem responses in a real-time, business-relevant manner by directly linking service delivery and support with IT infrastructure and application elements.

The acquisition of IT Masters enhances BMC Software's ability to provide best-in-class tools with an integrated service management approach. BMC Software's comprehensive enterprise management solutions combined with IT Masters' service modeling capabilities will enable customers to manage their business with a truly integrated service management approach.

IT Masters' flagship product is MasterCellTM, an adaptive service management solution. The MasterCell technology will be a key element of BMC Software's service management strategy, providing the base platform for service impact management, real-time service modeling, root-cause analysis and service level agreement management. MasterCell is already integrated with BMC Software's PATROL® for distributed systems. BMC Software's leading systems management solutions MAINVIEW®, for mainframe systems, and INCONTROL®, for batch scheduling and output management, as well as the Remedy IT Service Management products will be tightly integrated with the MasterCell technology in the future to extract key data from the enterprise. The information will be used to enhance MasterCell's adaptive service management capabilities so that the impact of all IT objects on real-time service delivery is easily understood by IT and business professionals.

In addition to MasterCell, IT Masters also delivers MasterAR SuiteTM, a suite of productivity tools that are integrated into the Remedy Action Request System®, (AR System®). AR System, an application platform and comprehensive development environment, was obtained by BMC Software as part of its acquisition of Remedy in November 2002.

"The acquisition of IT Masters and its leading service management solutions gives BMC a significant advantage in the industry and strengthens our ability to help our customers understand more fully how the performance and availability of IT technology impacts specific business services," said Mary Nugent, vice president and general manager, Service Management Solutions, BMC Software. "Knowing there is constant pressure on IT and business managers to reduce costs and target improvement efforts to areas that are critical to the business, companies need solutions that will help them understand where to focus. IT Masters' technology allows modeling of the relationships between elements of the business service so that service can be managed dynamically. This makes the customer's service management infrastructure more adaptable so that their business can change faster."

"We believe that this is the best strategic move for IT Masters and that the combination of both companies' strengths will greatly benefit our customers and the marketplace," said Philippe Moitroux, IT Masters President and CEO. "BMC Software's powerful enterprise-wide solutions coupled with our leading model-based approach, which can capture change information and discover changes in the environment, will not only allow customers to take control of their technology but more importantly allow them to move ahead and provide proactive service management."

About IT Masters
IT Masters is an enterprise management solutions company providing intelligent software solutions allowing companies to effectively manage their IT infrastructure and quickly analyze the impact technology has on their business. MasterCell™ is an adaptive service management solution that delivers cost effective, reliable and flexible event management via a highly scalable cellular architecture. IT Masters has offices in the United States and Europe. For more information, visit http://www.itmasters.com.

About BMC Software
BMC Software, Inc. [NYSE:BMC], is a leader in enterprise management. The company focuses on Assuring Business Availability® for its customers by helping them proactively improve service, reduce costs and increase value to their business. BMC Software solutions span enterprise systems, applications and databases. Founded in 1980, BMC Software has offices worldwide and is a member of the S&P 500, with fiscal year 2002 revenues of approximately $1.3 billion. Visit www.bmc.com to learn more.

System and method of enterprise systems and business impact management - Patent 6983321

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6983321.html Abstract:
A system architecture and a method for management using a cellular architecture to allow multi-tier management of events such as the managing of the actual impact or the potential impact of IT infrastructure situations on business services.

A preferred embodiment includes a high availability management backbone to frame monitoring operations using a cross-domain model where IT Component events are abstracted into IT Aggregate events.

By combining IT Aggregate events with transaction events, an operational representation of the business services is possible. Another feature is the ability to connect this information to dependent business user groups such as internal end-users or external customers for direct impact measurement.

A web of peer-to-peer rule-based cellular event processors preferably using Dynamic Data Association constitutes management backbone crossed by event flows, the execution of rules, and distributed set of dynamic inter-related object data rooted in the top data instances featuring the business services.

[Dec 02, 2002] MasterCell promises mastery over IT servicesBy Dennis Drogseth

As many of you know, root-cause analysis and automated fault resolution have been an area of particular interest for me. It's sad to see that with the exception of SMARTS and a few other vendors, this market has struggled as much as it has.

Innovators are often discounted because of their small size and possible instability, even with worthwhile approaches. Of course, some products did not evolve quickly enough to survive the downturn. Small companies with visionary products not ready for showtime got hit hard.

With that in mind, it pleases me to focus this column on one of the more worthwhile innovators and something of a success story: IT Masters.

IT Masters' MasterCell deliberately stays away from "root-cause," which the company feels is too network-centric. Its own "roots" are in systems event automation, and so MasterCell's design point is unusual, well suited to large enterprises with other management investments seeking to rein in operational costs and to more effectively automate service availability across an infrastructure.

MasterCell adapts to adjustments in production-level environments and can export events to a relational database. But it doesn't yet do historical reporting, trending or analysis.

IT Masters has done an exceptionally good job of identifying critical "role players" who can profit from its capabilities. Each person gets a targeted set of reports and screens. These include operations center personnel seeking to manage infrastructure availability in real time, help desk personnel seeking superior support for service calls, service managers seeking a clear overview of real-time service availability, and "users" seeking visibility into contracted services (both within the enterprise and from external sources).

With headquarters both in Austin, Texas, and Brussels, Belgium, it's not surprising that IT Masters' customers are distributed across both continents, often in financial institutions, but MasterCell is also supporting a healthy mix of other enterprise verticals and service providers, as well.

IT Masters expects its customers to have other vendors' products and leverages those products in MasterCell. It is designed to tap data sources from Tivoli, BMC Patrol, HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, Peregrine ServiceCenter, Remedy ARS, and Dirig Fenway. It has custom adapters as well. The product also can import events directly through adapters for NT event logs, file log adapters for Unix or Windows platforms, and of course SNMP traps from network sources.

At the heart of MasterCell's design are flexible, lightweight event processors that can run on nondedicated hardware and can support up to 500 events per second. Every transaction is logged and then committed to local files, saving the need for an added relational database. This "cellular," peer-to-peer architecture enables failover - and prevents having a single point of failure. One drawback, which IT Masters recognizes, is that these event processors do not yet have a central point for automated distribution and installation.

On the other hand, IT Masters has a sophisticated and effective approach to user administration with its Configuration Server. The MasterCell Configuration Server can leverage Lightweight Directory Access Protocol to support user authentication, role-based security, user preferences and licensing.

IT Masters does not claim that MasterCell works "out of the box" - an admission which is, I suppose, refreshing. What MasterCell provides is an automated, adaptive environment for automation policies to function within (the Dynamic Data Model), so that rules can relate in plug-and-play fashion to a wide variety of environments or changes in environments, and so that they can be amended dynamically without shutting down the system. IT Masters also provides its own MasterCell Rules language, and a Graphical Configuration Editor - making developing rules more a "paint by the numbers" process than in more traditional event management systems.

MasterCell GUIs are effective and, as I indicated, targeted at specific user types. Those supporting administrators are flexible and easily navigated, but won't win any awards at the Whitney Biennial. On the other hand, the service views are strong graphical representations with easy drill-down, so that service failure interdependencies are easily and automatically viewable in real time.

MasterCell is a strong product for large enterprises seeking effective control of their services. Installations can range from $50,000 to $250,000, but then this is a strategic investment with significant operational and business advantages. If you're seeking control over infrastructure service availability beyond the network - and if you want to consolidate and enhance existing management investments - MasterCell should definitely be on your short list.

[March 31, 2003] BMC grabs IT Masters The Register

BMC Software has acquired IT Masters International S.A. and its 75 staff for around $42m, writes Tony Lock.

IT Masters supplies software management tools which assess the impact that technology has on business services. The company's principal offering, MasterCell, is an adaptive management tool that is used to model the effect that IT service level degradation will have on business processes. In effect the technology allows the effect of varying IT service delivery to be assessed, in real time, for its impact on real world business.

BMC is to incorporate MasterCell in its frontline service management offerings to improve its capability to supply service management, real-time service modelling, root cause analysis and service level management. BMC already has a head start with the assimilation of MasterCell as the technology is already integrated with the well-known BMC Patrol product line.

BMC will integrate MasterCell with its MainView mainframe management tool and INCONTROL, the company's batch scheduling and output management system. BMC also plans to integrate its new acquisitions with its Remedy IT Service Management product.

The purchase of IT Masters will also see its collection of productivity tools, MasterAR Suite, integrated with the Remedy Action Request System.

For the past year or so most major systems management software vendors have been looking for ways to enhance the value of their offerings. The so-called gang of four (BMC Patrol, CA UniCenter, HP OpenView and IBM/Tivoli) are all now capable of providing technology capable of monitoring and managing IT systems. However, until recently there was limited ability to assess the impact that different levels of IT service would have on the business itself; and it is this area that the suppliers have been actively working to improve.

Today business impact is the only reasonable measure against which IT service should be looking to be measured. If BMC can incorporate the IT Masters technology successfully into its core offerings the company has the potential to move forward significantly in the race to provide proactive service management to business customers.

It islikely than there will be many more acquisitions and mergers in the near future among management tools suppliers. ©
IT-Analysis.com

MasterCell Base Pack - 3.1.00 - mastercell documentation

Multi-National Food Conglomerate Converts to Remedy IT Service ...
Ahold USA Selects Remedy and IT Masters to Replace Tivoli Service Desk And Peregrine
... MasterCell, the company's flagship product, bridges the gap between ...
www.findwealth.com/ multi-national-food-conglomerate-converts-251888pr.html - 12k - Cached -

FTPOnline - N-Tier Is the New Frontier of IT Operations Management
Not to be outdone, IBM is on a multiyear mission to modernize its Tivoli product
... BMC's acquisitions of Remedy ITSM software and IT Masters' MasterCell ...
www.ftponline.com/special/ opsmgmt/overview/default_pf.asp - 32k -
Cached - December 16, 2002 MasterCell 3.0 Highlights Services Trouble-Shooting

MasterCell 3.0 Highlights Services Trouble-Shooting Paula Musich
December 16, 2002

As more enterprises try to dissect system failures and performance problems, IT Masters Inc. is readying updated tools that can automatically show the impact of IT trouble on services and business processes.

The company's newest MasterCell product, Version 3.0, includes new services modeling functions that allow the status of services to be correlated with the availability and health of the IT infrastructure components that deliver those services, according to officials. The product was originally designed to be more scalable than traditional client/server-oriented ESM (enterprise systems management) frameworks or suites.

The IT organization at a large German bank, Postbank Systems AG, chose Master- Cell over IBM's Tivoli Enterprise Console because of its scalability and resilience. The tool also won out over BMC Software Inc.'s Patrol Event Manager and Computer Associates International Inc.'s Unicenter, according to Hans-Joachim von de Lieth, a project leader at Postbank, in Bonn.

"For the first time, we're able to see the relationship between different hardware and software components in one view, so we can decide what the business impact is of certain errors and prioritize problems," von de Lieth said. "If a key component of our hardware or software has a failure, we can instantly see if [an ATM or online banking interface] is affected."

MasterCell is made up of cells, or lightweight event processors, placed strategically across an enterprise IT infrastructure. The cells form a peer-to-peer network to share the processing load and results for events and information gathered from third-party elements. The P2P cell network allows information to be pushed to appropriate users.

MasterCell provides bidirectional integration with such ESM tools as Patrol, Tivoli Enterprise Manager and Tivoli Netview, Unicenter, and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView. It can gather SNMP events, Windows events and Unix system events.

MasterCell is also integrated with service desk systems such as Peregrine Systems Inc.'s ServiceCenter and BMC's Remedy Action Request system.

"We provide two-way interactions, so we can get information out of a third-party product and push information into it," said Jean-Marc Trinon, chief technology officer at IT Masters, in Brussels, Belgium. "That's important in describing the service provisioning."

MasterCell also adapts to changing environments. "Cells will automatically reassess what the business impact is when you change infrastructure or [service- level agreements]," said Trinon.

Despite the difficult IT spending environment, privately held IT Masters managed to increase its revenues by 30 percent in the third quarter—on top of 15 percent growth in the second. The 7-year-old company, which has 80 employees, says it has more than 1,000 customers.

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Best Practices for IBM Tivoli Enterprise Console to Netcool/OMNIbus Upgrade

The acquisition of MicrHPOMse® Inc. brings new opportunities for all involved in IBM® Systems Management discipline, and the development of a new and exciting strategy.

This IBM Redbooks® publication should be used when planning and implementing an integration and upgrade strategy from TEC to OMNIbus. In this book we provide recommended best practices and describe strategies for upgrading existing installations in a way that should best suit the needs of existing TEC-based environments.

The audience for this book is anyone involved in the Systems Management discipline, but it applies primarily to both those with a Tivoli or Netcool background, and is aimed at customers with an existing Tivoli Enterprise Console® investment who are looking to evaluate the comparative characteristics of TEC and Netcool/OMNIbus™ , so that they can perform a system upgrade.

Depending on the complexity of the existing environment and the depth of the requirements, this upgrade could be a significant project, but we aim with this book to make it as straightforward and as successful as possible.

We have structured the book to first introduce a quick overview of the products, highlighting the key benefits of Netcool/OMNIbus so that both audiences can become familiar with the different concepts. Then the architectures of both products are discussed in more detail, concluding with some typical scenarios.

Part 2, "Strategies” on page101, reviews planning and strategy. It begins with detailed guidelines on assessing the existing customer environment in order to identify how TEC is currently deployed. We discuss considerations to make and how to plan the activities required to upgrade. Then different upgrade scenarios are presented with a best practice recommendation that the reader can adapt to his environment.

At this point we would like to stress that this book builds on the utilities provided by the Tivoli and Netcool Integration Event Flow package (downloadable from the IBM OPAL Web site), and the recommendations from the Tivoli & Netcool Event Flow Integration white paper. The main distinction is that they cover various event integration scenarios, whereas we, in addition, map out a complete upgrade path to OMNIbus in our recommended strategy.

The implementation of the suggested strategy is then covered in Chapter 2, "Configuring the event sources” on page277. We describe in detail the steps required to achieve the upgrade with the core components, and discuss other tasks to also keep in mind. A wide range of different rule processing examples are provided, giving comparative and practical guidance, providing a valuable asset for the rule programmer.

Finally, additional technical details on configurations and scripts used and other valuable references can be found in Appendix 2, "Lab configuration” on page367.

Table of contents

Part 1. Overview
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Architecture
Part 2. Strategies
Chapter 3. TEC environmental assessment and planning guidelines
Chapter 4. Upgrade strategies
Part 3. Implementation
Chapter 5. Upgrading to an IBM Tivoli Netcool environment
Chapter 6. Event processing
Chapter 7. Configuring the event sources
Appendix A. Lab configuration
Appendix B. Additional material

Event Correlation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Event Processing — dougmcclure.net

Open source network monitoring and management tools

Analyst Perspectives on Business Service Management (BSM)  - Read analyst papers on the topic of  BSM

White paper Understanding Business Service Management

BMC Positions Itself for Business Service Management BMC...

In addition to being used as a foundation for BMC's new BSM strategy, IT Masters' technology will breathe new life into BMC's event console product, Patrol Enterprise Manager (PEM), which was the former Command/Post product from BMC's acquisitionof Boole & Babbage.

Many BMC Patrol customers have not adopted PEM and simply use the more rudimentary PatrolConsole to monitor and view events. BMC will immediately integrate technology from MasterCell into PEM to improve event correlation, threshold analysis and alert escalation.

During the long term, BMC will re-architect PEM to improve event handling by replacing its REXX-based scripting engine with MasterCell'srule engine.

Gartner believes that, although future versions of PEM will maintain unique PEM functions, such as mainframe connectivity, MasterCell code will increasingly overtake PEM code in the product. Enterprises with a long-term commitment to BMC and PEM should demand early access to MasterCell as part of their PEM maintenance contract so they can familiarize themselves with the new base MasterCell technology and begin to plan their migration.

Although PEM gets a much-needed makeover, PEM customers will face costs in training on a new console view and migration to a new and compelling rule engine. Enterprises that own PEM and have not deployed it should ask for IT Masters MasterCell and begin their deployment with that instead. This may even result in cost savings because the deployment of Patrol Console as midlevel manager(s) may not be necessary with MasterCell because the MasterCell agent technology is able to do better local event suppression, filtering and low-levelautomation.IT Masters gets a safe exit from an intensively competitive event console market, dominated by big enterprise management suite vendors. IT Masters customers will benefit because theacquisition by BMC ensures future support and development of the MasterCell product.

BMC Software Broadens Management Capabilities with Acquisition of IT Masters BMC Software Broadens Management Capabilities with Acquisition of IT Masters. Service Modeling Solutions Enable Companies To View Impact of Their IT Organizations

HOUSTON — (March 25, 2003) — BMC Software, Inc. [NYSE: BMC], a leader in enterprise management, today announced that it has acquired IT Masters International S.A., an enterprise management solutions company, for approximately $42 million. The acquisition further strengthens BMC Software’s market leading Service Level Management solutions by adding adaptive service management capabilities to BMC Software’s leading enterprise-wide offerings. The acquisition adds approximately 75 IT Masters employees to BMC Software.

IT Masters is a privately-held company with software development offices in Belgium and Austin, Texas. The company develops service management technology that allows customers to model and visualize IT infrastructure components correlated with the ultimate services being delivered. With this technology, IT organizations can prioritize their work according to their company’s critical business needs. Specifically, customers can prioritize problem responses in a real-time, business-relevant manner by directly linking service delivery and support with IT infrastructure and application elements.

The acquisition of IT Masters enhances BMC Software’s ability to provide best-in-class tools with an integrated service management approach. BMC Software’s comprehensive enterprise management solutions combined with IT Masters’ service modeling capabilities will enable customers to manage their business with a truly integrated service management approach.

IT Masters’ flagship product is MasterCell™, an adaptive service management solution. The MasterCell technology will be a key element of BMC Software’s service management strategy, providing the base platform for service impact management, real-time service modeling, root-cause analysis and service level agreement management. MasterCell is already integrated with BMC Software’s PATROL® for distributed systems. BMC Software’s leading systems management solutions MAINVIEW®, for mainframe systems, and INCONTROL®, for batch scheduling and output management, as well as the Remedy IT Service Management products will be tightly integrated with the MasterCell technology in the future to extract key data from the enterprise. The information will be used to enhance MasterCell’s adaptive service management capabilities so that the impact of all IT objects on real-time service delivery is easily understood by IT and business professionals.

In addition to MasterCell, IT Masters also delivers MasterAR Suite™, a suite of productivity tools that are integrated into the Remedy Action Request System®, (AR System®). AR System, an application platform and comprehensive development environment, was obtained by BMC Software as part of its acquisition of Remedy in November 2002.

“The acquisition of IT Masters and its leading service management solutions gives BMC a significant advantage in the industry and strengthens our ability to help our customers understand more fully how the performance and availability of IT technology impacts specific business services,” said Mary Nugent, vice president and general manager, Service Management Solutions, BMC Software. “Knowing there is constant pressure on IT and business managers to reduce costs and target improvement efforts to areas that are critical to the business, companies need solutions that will help them understand where to focus. IT Masters’ technology allows modeling of the relationships between elements of the business service so that service can be managed dynamically. This makes the customer’s service management infrastructure more adaptable so that their business can change faster.”

“We believe that this is the best strategic move for IT Masters and that the combination of both companies’ strengths will greatly benefit our customers and the marketplace,” said Philippe Moitroux, IT Masters President and CEO. “BMC Software’s powerful enterprise-wide solutions coupled with our leading model-based approach, which can capture change information and discover changes in the environment, will not only allow customers to take control of their technology but more importantly allow them to move ahead and provide proactive service management.”

About IT Masters

IT Masters is an enterprise management solutions company providing intelligent software solutions allowing companies to effectively manage their IT infrastructure and quickly analyze the impact technology has on their business. MasterCell™ is an adaptive service management solution that delivers cost effective, reliable and flexible event management via a highly scalable cellular architecture. IT Masters has offices in the United States and Europe. For more information, visit http://www.itmasters.com

Remedi

Software Magazine Newsletter - Vol. 4, No. 2 MasterCell Provides Critical Resource Monitoring

There’s a new kid on the block offering critical resource monitoring. MasterCell from IT Masters not only provides its own agent technology, but also manages that of other vendors, offering global, integrated monitoring of networks, systems, and applications. It delivers these event management services via a highly scalable cellular architecture, with a view to lowering operational costs, and providing more effective automation of service availability across the infrastructure.

Before MasterCell, customers couldn’t get intelligence close enough to where the events were processed, notes Jim Duster, IT Masters’ COO in North America. Now they have this intelligence at the business site. Duster attributes the localized intelligence to MasterCell’s “cellular event processing architecture,” whereby “little pieces of code [are] close to where the business is, and connected.” You can’t do this from a central place, says Duster, contrasting the product with other service-management software such as that from BMC, Computer Associates and Tivoli.

The MasterCell product components consist of the console, event processors, configuration server, knowledgebase editor, and event adapters. The console delivers the right information to the right people. MasterCell event processors model the availability of business and IT services, dynamically transforming raw event data from IT components into real-time knowledge about business services. The service management capabilities correlate raw events from IT components, and model the status of IT resources, SLAs, and business services, providing real-time adaptive service management.

The base pack for MasterCell costs $50,000 for the first environment — consisting of one geography and one business application. Because the product is cellular, companies can "hook [up] as they go." For example, a bank could first hook up its U.S. locations, and later link its European sites.

For more information, go to:
http://www.softwaremag.com/L.cfm?Doc=newsletter/2003-01-30#MasterCell

MasterCell promises mastery over IT services By Dennis Drogseth

12/02/02 | Network World Network/Systems Management Newsletter  

As many of you know, root-cause analysis and automated fault resolution have been an area of particular interest for me. It's sad to see that with the exception of SMARTS and a few other vendors, this market has struggled as much as it has.

Innovators are often discounted because of their small size and possible instability, even with worthwhile approaches. Of course, some products did not evolve quickly enough to survive the downturn. Small companies with visionary products not ready for showtime got hit hard.

With that in mind, it pleases me to focus this column on one of the more worthwhile innovators and something of a success story: IT Masters.

IT Masters' MasterCell deliberately stays away from "root-cause," which the company feels is too network-centric. Its own "roots" are in systems event automation, and so MasterCell's design point is unusual, well suited to large enterprises with other management investments seeking to rein in operational costs and to more effectively automate service availability across an infrastructure.

MasterCell adapts to adjustments in production-level environments and can export events to a relational database. But it doesn't yet do historical reporting, trending or analysis.

IT Masters has done an exceptionally good job of identifying critical "role players" who can profit from its capabilities. Each person gets a targeted set of reports and screens. These include operations center personnel seeking to manage infrastructure availability in real time, help desk personnel seeking superior support for service calls, service managers seeking a clear overview of real-time service availability, and "users" seeking visibility into contracted services (both within the enterprise and from external sources).

With headquarters both in Austin, Texas, and Brussels, Belgium, it's not surprising that IT Masters' customers are distributed across both continents, often in financial institutions, but MasterCell is also supporting a healthy mix of other enterprise verticals and service providers, as well.

IT Masters expects its customers to have other vendors' products and leverages those products in MasterCell. It is designed to tap data sources from Tivoli, BMC Patrol, HP OpenView, CA Unicenter, Peregrine ServiceCenter, Remedy ARS, and Dirig Fenway. It has custom adapters as well. The product also can import events directly through adapters for NT event logs, file log adapters for Unix or Windows platforms, and of course SNMP traps from network sources.

At the heart of MasterCell's design are flexible, lightweight event processors that can run on nondedicated hardware and can support up to 500 events per second. Every transaction is logged and then committed to local files, saving the need for an added relational database. This "cellular," peer-to-peer architecture enables failover - and prevents having a single point of failure. One drawback, which IT Masters recognizes, is that these event processors do not yet have a central point for automated distribution and installation.

On the other hand, IT Masters has a sophisticated and effective approach to user administration with its Configuration Server. The MasterCell Configuration Server can leverage Lightweight Directory Access Protocol to support user authentication, role-based security, user preferences and licensing.

IT Masters does not claim that MasterCell works "out of the box" - an admission which is, I suppose, refreshing. What MasterCell provides is an automated, adaptive environment for automation policies to function within (the Dynamic Data Model), so that rules can relate in plug-and-play fashion to a wide variety of environments or changes in environments, and so that they can be amended dynamically without shutting down the system. IT Masters also provides its own MasterCell Rules language, and a Graphical Configuration Editor - making developing rules more a "paint by the numbers" process than in more traditional event management systems.

MasterCell GUIs are effective and, as I indicated, targeted at specific user types. Those supporting administrators are flexible and easily navigated, but won't win any awards at the Whitney Biennial. On the other hand, the service views are strong graphical representations with easy drill-down, so that service failure interdependencies are easily and automatically viewable in real time.

MasterCell is a strong product for large enterprises seeking effective control of their services. Installations can range from $50,000 to $250,000, but then this is a strategic investment with significant operational and business advantages. If you're seeking control over infrastructure service availability beyond the network - and if you want to consolidate and enhance existing management investments - MasterCell should definitely be on your short list.

Dennis Drogseth is a director with Enterprise Management Associates, a leading analyst and market research firm based in Boulder, Colorado, focusing exclusively on all aspects of enterprise management. Dennis has extensive experience in network management platforms and products and is researching trends in management software and changing IT roles internationally. His 18-plus years of experience in high-tech includes positions at IBM and Cabletron. He has been quoted in the press and is a speaker at industry events. He can be reached via e-mail.

Audrey Rasmussen is a research director with Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colorado, a leading analyst and market research firm focusing exclusively on all aspects of enterprise management. Audrey has more than 20 years of experience working with distributed systems, applications and networks. Her current focus at EMA is e-business, SMB/SME and MSPs. She can be reached via e-mail.

Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colorado, is a leading analyst and market research firm focusing exclusively on all aspects of enterprise management software and services.

As more enterprises try to dissect system failures and performance problems, IT Masters Inc. is readying updated tools that can automatically show the impact of IT trouble on services and business processes.

The company's newest MasterCell product, Version 3.0, includes new services modeling functions that allow the status of services to be correlated with the availability and health of the IT infrastructure components that deliver those services, according to officials. The product was originally designed to be more scalable than traditional client/server-oriented ESM (enterprise systems management) frameworks or suites.

The IT organization at a large German bank, Postbank Systems AG, chose Master- Cell over IBM's Tivoli Enterprise Console because of its scalability and resilience. The tool also won out over BMC Software Inc.'s Patrol Event Manager and Computer Associates International Inc.'s Unicenter, according to Hans-Joachim von de Lieth, a project leader at Postbank, in Bonn.

"For the first time, we're able to see the relationship between different hardware and software components in one view, so we can decide what the business impact is of certain errors and prioritize problems," von de Lieth said. "If a key component of our hardware or software has a failure, we can instantly see if [an ATM or online banking interface] is affected."

MasterCell is made up of cells, or lightweight event processors, placed strategically across an enterprise IT infrastructure. The cells form a peer-to-peer network to share the processing load and results for events and information gathered from third-party elements. The P2P cell network allows information to be pushed to appropriate users.

MasterCell provides bidirectional integration with such ESM tools as Patrol, Tivoli Enterprise Manager and Tivoli Netview, Unicenter, and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView. It can gather SNMP events, Windows events and Unix system events.

MasterCell is also integrated with service desk systems such as Peregrine Systems Inc.'s ServiceCenter and BMC's Remedy Action Request system.

"We provide two-way interactions, so we can get information out of a third-party product and push information into it," said Jean-Marc Trinon, chief technology officer at IT Masters, in Brussels, Belgium. "That's important in describing the service provisioning."

MasterCell also adapts to changing environments. "Cells will automatically reassess what the business impact is when you change infrastructure or [service- level agreements]," said Trinon.

Despite the difficult IT spending environment, privately held IT Masters managed to increase its revenues by 30 percent in the third quarter—on top of 15 percent growth in the second. The 7-year-old company, which has 80 employees, says it has more than 1,000 customers.

Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in eWEEK.



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