Data Center Monitoring


Some insights from the 2011 Gartner Data Center Conference

Posted on: December 6th, 2011 by Ashish Kuthiala No Comments

 

The first day kicked off quite early with Gartner presenting top 10 major IT trends and then they had several individual sessions.   Some notes on Big Picture trends:

1. Physical Infrastructure management is becoming very critical.  One stat shared was that one data center could consume many time more  energy than 100 offices that depend on those data center application and services.

2. Compute Fabrics are starting to emerge in the enterprise and it is going to accelerate.  Compute fabrics are also known as Cisco UCS and HP

Converged Infrastructure and refer to the ability for the enterprise to seamlessly add and expand compute capacity that comes pre-integrated with server, storage and networking elements.  Our perspective has been ”Converged Management for Converged Infrastructure”.  If  infrastructure is converging, why shouldn’t management.

3.  Hybrid clouds are going to be the norm.  Hybrid clouds are going to be driven more by need to focus core capabilities within the firewalls and

outsourcing non-essential applications.  This is differentiated than enterprises using hybrid clouds purely for bursting capacity.

4.  Challenges in cloud computing are going to be around integration and security.  Specifically around integration they mentioned that integration costs could get so high that the gains from cloud could often be lost in the integration costs.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Why AccelOps and Industry Trends

Posted on: November 14th, 2011 by mahesh No Comments


My name is Mahesh and this is my first blog post at AccelOps.  I lead the product marketing and product management functions at AccelOps.

Several former colleagues and friends have asked me “Why AccelOps?”  It is a good question and a simple one to answer.  My passion lies in driving promising products and technologies to mainstream acceptance.  I’ve done this at companies such as HP, IBM and start-ups such as Loudcloud, Collation and Kontiki.  It is exciting to see how AccelOps has leveraged technology and innovation to build an obsolescence-proof cloud generation IT management platform.  Furthermore, I am energized by the enthusiasm of our customers and partners.

Instead of just extolling the virtues of our product I would like to highlight some key industry trends that are driving next-gen thinking on how IT monitoring and management products are built.

1. Virtualization and cloud:  Has created a paradigm shift that invalidates several assumptions built into traditional IT monitoring platforms.  Consider this – change windows are compressed from week/s to hours, minutes and seconds due to vMotion, DRS etc. The high velocity of change and the inherent complexity it creates demands new approaches.  At the least, your monitoring platform must be built for high velocity change.  There are other implications of virtualization and cloud on monitoring platforms, which I will highlight in subsequent posts.

2. Data explosion: Traditional IT monitoring products were created in an era when making management data easily available to and consumable by IT monitoring and management products wasn’t a high priority for device and software vendors.  Consequently, traditional IT monitoring products were optimized to solve the data collection problem.  That’s changed now.  Vendor MIBs readily provide valuable data.  And growing infrastructures and virtualization have resulted in an explosion of data – it is now a big data problem.  As a result, the challenge has definitively shifted from collection to connecting the dots across domains and accurately analyzing it in real-time.  Data analysis is the big problem not data collection.

3. Hybrid Clouds:  Both analyst opinion and customer surveys point to enterprises adopting a hybrid strategy going forward – traditional data centers, private clouds and public clouds.  Three key implications for this are Security, SLA and Scale.   Security needs are pervasive as there is no single “perimeter” to guard.  SLAs need to be maintained and managed across environments and the IT management solution should easily scale to accommodate diverse distributed environments.

4. DevOps:  Is an organic movement that is bringing together development and operations teams to improve agility and reduce problems during hand-off from one group to another.  As this movement goes mainstream it will have profound impact on IT Management tools.  IT operations tools will not only provide data and statistics but also enable collaboration across IT teams to achieve superior results.  I am a huge believer in DevOps and a previous blog post on the stages of DevOps evolution can be found here (http://bit.ly/rqAZ2O).

In subsequent posts I will write more about some of these areas.  I welcome your comments.

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Integrated data center and cloud monitoring

Posted on: March 18th, 2011 by AccelOps No Comments

David Chernicoff @ ZDNet, in his latest data center blog, highlighted the importance of end-to-end monitoring for the new data center and cloud providers.  He clearly understands the need for service oriented monitoring with clearly defined SLA so that customers can deploy and use cloud services in their businesses.  He also points out that legacy applications cannot extend to do monitoring of the new data centers and clouds effectively.

This isn’t quite as simple as extending Tivoli, or OpenView, or adding another module to Microsoft Systems Center, but from the services consumer perspective, it sort of needs to be.

I could not agree more with David’s comments and it’s reassuring to hear echoed what we have been saying for years from an industry veteran like David.

The new data center and cloud monitoring solutions need to provide at least the following:

– unified collection of security, performance and availability metrics

– CMDB and change monitoring

– sophisticated data analytics engine with built-in rules and reports

– prioritized incident management

– provide a service point of view in addition to node-level management

The AccelOps approach of integrating availability, performance, security, and change monitoring coupled with auto-discovery, and a CMDB allows us to truly integrate at the data level. The cross-correlation of all of these multi-sourced data points with powerful analytics capabilities, whether it is logical analytics for relationships and patterns, or trending analysis for anomalies and best practices, provides datacenter operations the intelligence and proactive capabilities that they require.

In the end, we need a single monitoring console where the information from the entire data center and cloud are collected, cross-correlated, prioritized and alerted.

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AccelOps Announces Free Trial Download for Award Winning SIEM Solution

Posted on: January 29th, 2011 by AccelOps No Comments

Accelops has announced a 14-day instant free trial download for their award winning SIEM solution. The solution combines SIEM functionality with performance and availability monitoring to provide unparalleled depth into your datacenter.

In a recent review by Greg Shipley at Network Computing, he found that Accelops

offers surprisingly rich functionality and usability while remaining cost competitive. The Flash-based UI is polished, responsive, makes good use of data visualization tools, and is downright slick compared with other ‘ho-hum’ interfaces. We recommend taking a look at AccelOps… a dream for companies that are looking to affordably improve their security and network operations centers, and a contender for small and large SIEM deployments alike.”

If you would like to get the instant free trial download (without any sales pitch) please click the following link to fill in a brief form, and you’ll receive email with further instructions in seconds.

http://www3.accelops.net/l/3012/2010-11-16/2DJ3V

Another review of the product can be accessed at: http://goo.gl/MzppG


Virtualization, Data Center Complexity, Acquisition of Hyper9

Posted on: January 27th, 2011 by AccelOps No Comments

The Solarwinds acquisition of Hyper9 demonstrates the accelerating importance of manageability within the virtual data center. Although this deal aligns with their business model, does it really align with what the market needs in terms of decreasing operational complexity?

We are seeing increased interest in the consolidation of management tools to ease support and maintenance burdens and to increase operational efficiencies. Juggling multiple consoles, data sources and communication modes while trying to quickly identify root cause and restore service is

not easily accomplished through a piecemeal portfolio of tools. The silos within IT still exist as you’ve done nothing to address the inherent technical and organizational challenge of aligning all stakeholders.

The AccelOps platform provides a single view with end-to-end visibility across disparate elements of the IT operational environment. As with the HP acquisition of Arcsight, the AccelOps strategy of offering an integrated IT operations platform appears to be a vision the market is rapidly adopting. An HP executive says it best – “we believe organizations need a new approach, an approach where security and IT operations are converged, not siloed… an approach that is holistic and proactive.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Elasticity and Scalability

Posted on: January 10th, 2011 by Imin Lee No Comments

For data center operators, cloud operators, and service providers, being able to grow their business and scale up is one of the major topics of discussion. Large enterprises, when managing large IT infrastructures and multiple business units, share the same requirements. Elasticity is another topic of interest in recent cloud computing discussions enabling IT as a utility or as a pay-per-use model.

In order to be elastic, and to pay only for true usage, management software needs to be able to scale up and down. Management and monitoring capability needs to change according to the data center and cloud environment’s computation power: network traffic, flows, packets, logs/events, metrics, and devices. Therefore, being able to scale is a prerequisite of being able to elastic.

A recent visit to a global Fortune 100 enterprise highlighted the strengths of AccelOps versus our major competition. Simply having multiple copies of a SIEM appliance, whether virtual or otherwise, is not synonymous with being able to scale out event cross-correlation capabilities. True elasticity requires clustered cross correlation capabilities, dynamic deployment of virtual appliances for more processing power, usage accounting, and a flexible licensing model. This is Elastic EPS and AccelOps provides this unique capability in our Integrated Data center and Cloud Monitoring solution.


Cloud Computing and Service Provider Focused Management

Posted on: January 4th, 2011 by Imin Lee No Comments

A year ago, I was reading a cloud computing report from Lazard Capital and I could not agree more with them: cloud computing is not about technology, it is all about the business model; it is about how IT is consumed as a utility. So the data center is still made up of servers, storage, networking and security equipment. But how the data center is used or offered as a service is the key topic of interest.

One year later, at Gartner’s Datacenter Conference, cloud computing was greatly demystified. It is no longer something as fuzzy and remotely untouchable as a cloud in the sky anymore. Instead, more concrete definitions of cloud computing, its characteristics, and initial success stories in the real-world have been shared among analysts, vendors, and industry practitioners.

Management Software, whether it is provisioning, monitoring, or the help-desk, needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Service-result focus: whether it can quickly and easily allow service providers bring up new services, add new clients etc.
  • Shared/Multi-tenancy: an environment where multiple organizations or customers are hosted and managed. An efficient way to view, mark, and control them is key, but at the same time reducing the operational overhead of multiple solutions and their corresponding investment costs.
  • Utility-based and usage-chargeable: can the management software support the IT-as-utility model by understanding how each organization and each customer uses resources, and provide the option of charging the customers accordingly.
  • Scalable and Elastic: the goal of the service provider is to efficiently service many different customers. Can they easily scale to hundreds of customers? Service providers employ a recurring revenue and fee-based model so their licensing framework needs to be flexible and allow for unpredictable growth.


If you look at these characteristics, you will see that they are the common practices and requirements seen day-in and day-out in the service provider world, whether it is the traditional telephone service provider, or power and electricity providers. In other words, the data center, whether public or private, needs to run and operate like a service provider. If so, the management software is the key layer that considers all of the moving parts in the data center to provide the concerted effort of ‘IT as utility’.

Up to this point, management software of the last 10 – 20 years was focused on the traditional enterprise model. Many vendors’ products were built with one single organization in mind. Although they have been used in many enterprises and service providers , they are in fact serving the management of the data center, not the cloud (again, a difference in the business model). Therefore, in order to provide the ‘IT as a utility’ business model , one can not just say ‘we have been serving the datacenters and service providers, therefore we are serving cloud computing’.

A 10-20 year old tool cannot all of a sudden become a cloud computing software platform. As a matter of fact, many private and public data centers, and service providers, in the current transition phase to cloud computing or a utility computing business model, are feeling the pain of trying to put a square peg into a round hole. As a result, they are giving up on the legacy solutions and looking elsewhere for innovative solutions that realistically address the requirements and characteristics of cloud computing.

We encourage data center operators, cloud operators, and service providers to investigate these characteristics in management software. You will find exactly that with AccelOps’ Integrated Datacenter and Cloud Monitoring Platform.


Integrated Management Framework and Best of Breed Mini-Product Suites

Posted on: December 17th, 2010 by AccelOps No Comments

Another interesting topic at Gartner’s Datacenter Conference 2010, is the trend of more and more vendor tools providing functional level integration and data integration between 2010 – 2015. The end goal is to move into a management framework.

However, there is the challenge of vendor lock-in. So an alternative to having one management vendor’s framework is to purchase a set of best of breed mini management product suites in some sub areas and fill in the gap with best of breed point products. The live audience poll greatly favored this approach.

I am delighted to hear the term ‘mini-management suite’. In a way, we can think of our Integrated Datacenter and Cloud Monitoring solution as a mini-suite in the monitoring area within the datacenter operation management umbrella.

Our approach of integrating the availability, performance, security, and change monitoring coupled with auto-discovery, and a CMDB allows us to truly integrate at the data level. The cross-correlation of all of these multi-sourced data points with powerful analytics capabilities, whether it is logical analytics for relationships and patterns, or trending analysis for anomalies and best practices, provides datacenter operations the intelligence and proactive capabilities that they require.

These capabilities allow us (AccelOps) to provide our users (datacenter operators) a best of breed, integrated framework or mini-suite in the monitoring area.

Interestingly, when polling the live audience in the event, 27% of the audience responded that they currently use “other solutions” than the big 4’s. And 25% will use “other solutions than the Big 4’s” for 2011. When asked how many have the confidence for the big 4’s solutions, 34% of the audience responded NOT having the confidence in the big 4 and in infrastructure vendors’ (e.g. Cisco, VMWare, Oracle, Microsoft) solutions.

I think that is the reason why our solution is so well received and welcomed by the market: a lot of room for new innovations like ours to address issues in the increasingly complex but increasingly important datacenter and its operations.

There are two other opportunities for the new players according to Gartner, besides managing across multiple sourced environments (which is the integration point already mentioned):

  • Alternative delivery methods (e.g. SaaS, subscription model) — AccelOps has this already.
  • Penetrating customers outside the Global 2000 — AccelOps was built for this market with ease of use, ease of deployment, and with the right TCO.

I am glad that we are hitting the mark! I have good feelings coming back from the Gartner Conference — a lot of reassurance and confirmation!


Key Things to Look for in IT Operations Management Tools

Posted on: December 9th, 2010 by Imin Lee No Comments

I just came back from the Gartner Datacenter Conference 2010 in Las Vegas. A high quality conference with all of the relevant attendees: datacenter executives, mid-level managers and directors, and datacenter architects. Of course, being Gartner, it is packed with multi-track sessions, discussions and interesting keynotes. Lots of metrics and interesting facts. One of the things I liked is the live polling of the audience, which came back with data very much matching the metrics Gartner had gathered in the marketplace. Bingo!

There are a lot of take-aways from this conference. Here, I would like to focus on one thing: what are the key things to look for in an IT Operations Management tool?

In one of the town hall meetings dedicated to the topic of IT Operations, all Gartner analysts in this area, such as David Williams, Debra Curtis, and Ronni Colville gave their thoughts. One of the audience members stood up and asked: “How can I tell the difference between all the IT operations management tools as they all sound alike?” The answer is: yes, the majority of them all sound the same. Unfortunately, today’s tools are still very much fragmented in functionality, according to Gartner. They are not tying together multi-sourced data, and not tying that with live discovery information in the CMDB. This is something that is very difficult to get right.

So the key things to look for in an IT management tool are:

  • Can the CMDB be auto-populated by auto-discovered data? Auto-discovery is the key.
  • Can all of the data (events, logs, metrics) be cross-correlated and is the up-to-date CMDB data referenced for the understanding of availability, performance, security and change?
  • Is the GUI very intuitive, and is information presented in an easy to understand and easy to analyze fashion?

Being an audience member in this session, I could not be happier to hear these key points from the analysts. For us, it is a confirmation and reassurance of our product direction, and on how we see the IT operations market challenges and how we address them.

The above mentioned items for an IT management tool are the key differentiators for AccelOps, where our customers appreciate the capability of our auto-discovery, and auto-population of the CMDB. The cross-correlation engine and analytics capabilities are highly regarded and that is core to our DNA. AccelOps is designed to collect and cross-correlate all sources of data for multiple functions: availability, performance, security and change monitoring and proactive alerting. And the flexibility and the presentation of the data via our GUI are a generation ahead of the tools existing in the market (quoted by some of our customers and industry analysts).


MSP Software and Managing Private Cloud / Hybrid Cloud Environments

Posted on: October 26th, 2010 by AccelOps No Comments

MSP Software and Managing Private Cloud / Hybrid Cloud Environments

Bojan Simic of TRAC Research suggests “Management Tools for MSPs (Managed Service Providers) Could Come in Handy in the Private Cloud.”  The industry analyst writes, “deployments of private cloud services are driving IT organizations to act like internal service providers (ala managed service providers). For that reason, many of the capabilities that BSM (Business Service Management) vendors built to make their solutions more appealing to the managed service provider market could be very valuable for the management of private cloud environments.”  This is more than noteworthy insight on the use of managed service monitoring / MSP monitoring software.

Whether you are a MSP / Managed Service Provider, Hosting Service Provider or large enterprise, meeting service commitments and achieving operational efficiencies demands oversight of the dynamic provisioning within virtual environments (virtualization management) and the extended data center.

It will also necessitate more automated methods to efficiently define, monitor and maintain logical service groups of respective infrastructure and application components.  Not for the task of simply mapping a service, but more so to identify, activate and cross-correlate the component’s various operational controls with regards to performance, availability, changes and security.  The result of which enables proactive management and expedites root-cause analysis to meet service levels.

Lastly, it will require the tracking of shared and client-specific resources, both on-premise and off-premise, for the purpose of optimization, usage metering and capacity planning.  Sound familiar – these tenets for Business Service Management, which align with Managed Service Provider / MSP software requirements, do indeed support managing private and hybrid clouds.  They also happen to be core competencies within AccelOps’ integrated data center and cloud service monitoring platform.

Bojan further asserts, “In order for these technologies to benefit the users of private cloud services, they need to include a set of additional functionalities that will make them effective in managing virtualized and dynamic infrastructure. However, the capabilities such as multi-tenancy, SLA management or the ability to calculate service chargebacks have been essential for using BSM (Business Service Management) solutions in the MSP (Managed Service Provider) market and they are equally as important in managing private cloud environments.”  We couldn’t agree more.

Multi-tenancy relates to software architecture where by one instance of the software can serve multiple organization or customer “tenants.”  While computing resources are shared, the software virtually partitions functionality to support data and configuration of each client.  From a client perspective, the client works with their own virtual instance and respective data. From a MSP / Manager Service Provider or enterprise perspective, an integrated data center monitoring platform with rich multi-tenancy and customization features offers the foundation upon which cloud computing advantages can be realized.

AccelOps offers managed service providers (MSP) and enterprise customers multi-tenancy that streamlines multi-client/division and multi-site (on-premise and off-premise) discovery, configuration, distributed collection, analytics, monitoring, dashboards, alerting and reporting.  Our multi-tenant implementation is all presented through a consolidated web console – avoiding the cost and administrative burden of managing multiple monitoring components and a variety of portals.

AccelOps is not just software that operates as a virtual appliance. Plenty of conventional software applications have been ported to run on a virtual machine.  The AccelOps platform was designed on a virtual cluster architecture that takes advantage of internal parallel processing, load balancing and multi-tenancy, as well as leveraging VMware’s provisioning and high-availability attributes. This provides on-demand deployment and scalability to address the heavy analysis and reporting throughput demands common in MSP / Managed Service Provider and cloud computing environments.

We welcome Manage Service Providers (MSP), Hosting Service Providers and large enterprises to explore AccelOps’ integrated approach – whether used as MSP monitoring software or as a data center monitoring platform for private cloud / hybrid cloud management.  Takes us for a test drive via our Free 30-day trial program.