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NETWORK WORLD NEWSLETTER:
DENNIS DROGSETH ON NETWORK/SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
08/09/04
Today's focus: Opticom has an edge in service management

By Dennis Drogseth

Opticom has always operated on the basis that understanding the
financial and business impact of delivering a successful service
ought not to require labyrinthine provisioning.

In fact, Opticom's products have always yielded high levels of
automation and relatively facile deployment - in many cases
delivering useful initial results within hours of installation.
Opticom also was early to recognize the relationship between
assets and "performance" - for instance, linking brand-related
data on mean time to repair and mean time between failures. It
has historically been network-centric, but it offers inventory
capabilities for pretty much any device with an IP address.

This summer, with iView 5.0, Opticom introduced a capability for
discovering application infrastructures by leveraging the
discovery capabilities of products such as OpenView, Spectrum,
SMARTS and NetView. More specifically, Opticom has introduced a
series of "Application Discovery Dictionaries" that exploit
iView's existing correlation and data-mining capabilities to
capture the relationships among applications, servers, network
devices and transport services. Business processes can also be
mapped across the infrastructure.

An Application Discovery Dictionary ships with rule entries for
more than 50 applications including BEA's WebLogic, Oracle, SAP,
Siebel and Microsoft's SQL Server, Exchange and IIS. It even
supports management-specific applications such as HP OpenView
Network Node Manager, Aprisma Spectrum or IBM Tivoli NetView,
and security applications such as Symantec Antivirus. The
Dictionary can easily be extended to support other applications
by adding an entry to the application database and following
Microsoft guidelines; for example, adding itself to the
Add/Remove Programs registry so the Host Resources MIB gets
populated.

Historically, Opticom has focused on the Service Delivery
processes within the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Opticom's
capabilities include Continuity Management for projecting risks
to service delivery based on usage and capacity; Availability
Management for assessing brand-based or component metrics on
availability; Financial Management for mapping asset performance
and asset utilization to cost in the delivery of a service;
Capacity Management for addressing under- and over-utilized
infrastructure components (the ability to accurately capture
underutilized ports has been a big crowd-pleaser); and Service
Level Management for addressing service and business impact.

In keeping with this ITIL focus, the new capabilities for
application infrastructure discovery and dependency mapping
provide asset-to-inventory reconciliation that is supportive of
ITIL's definition of a Configuration Management Data Base
(CMDB). This concept is beginning to come into prominence. In
the ITIL model, the CMDB becomes a critical enabling resource
for other management applications, such as change management,
capacity and availability management, and service-level
management.

The customers I have spoken with appreciate the new application
discovery and dependency mapping because they can shorten the
time it takes to create meaningful and accurate service-level
agreements - from weeks to minutes, in some cases. This is again
in keeping with Opticom's traditional emphasis on automation and
relative ease of deployment and administration.

Opticom's approach is laudable and heralds much that's needed if
such concepts as business service management and on-demand
computing are really going to take off.

However, like all products, Opticom's iView is also limited - in
some respects by design. In terms of granular information for
troubleshooting and trending, iView remains network-focused. And
its metrics are focused on availability, with more limited
detail on performance and responsiveness. But Opticom is a clear
leader - and in many respects the best single example I can
think of - in recognizing that the future of service-level
management resides ultimately in understanding relevant
infrastructure assets and their contributions to the services
and business at hand.

Comparing Opticom with traditional asset management is like
comparing statistics that list an Olympic team in terms how fast
they run and how high they jump vs. just listing their height,
eye color and weight. Understanding asset performance will
assist in everything from troubleshooting to planning and can
bring real dollars-and-cents empowerment to making IT
investments.

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Last Modified: March 9, 2008