The Next Decade

2010 is arguably the beginning of a new decade (at least it's the beginning of my second decade as an industry analyst). Looking back at the past ten years, I realize the progress we have made in IT management software. Ten years ago, it was mostly about collecting data from infrastructure devices and managing infrastructures to find the right level of performance. The major progress of the decade was to shift the focus from infrastructure to services.

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Oracle, Sun and the European Union

The European Union is very cautious and thorough. Approving the acquisition of Sun by Oracle is a lengthy process where all grievances are examined an judged. Michael Widenius, the "father" of MySQL has been very vocal about the future of MySQL (that he sold to Sun) in an Oracle environment, claiming that Oracle will simply let the product die to maintain the revenue level of the database market. The proof in the pudding, he says, is that Oracle has requested an extension (until January 27, 2010) to present its case in front of the EU commission.

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The next step in virtualization

As a high school student I had to go through a Philosophy class, even though my curriculum was in sciences. Zeno's paradox, or the negation of movement, was one of the subjects of that class through which I suffered enormously. Years later, my daughter came back one day with some math homework: the subject was to explain why Zeno's paradox was wrong. And I suffered through it again. This familiarity with Zeno, which I really could have done without, lead me to apply it to IT and what I consider to be the ball and chain that slows IT progress. In Zeno's paradox a runner (Achilles) cannot catch a turtle which started a race earlier than him because each time the runner reaches the point where the turtle was, the turtle has of course moved forward. Repeating this reasoning leads to the conclusion that the interval will become very small, but that the runner will never catch the turtle. What's wrong with the reasoning is that it explains a continuous movement variation through a set of discrete events. But this is what we do in IT: we have a continuous progress of IT technology, hardware and software, and IT projects which are discrete events. When we decide to start an IT project, all hardware and software components are frozen for the duration, while technology continue to progress.

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Compuware to acquire Gomez

Compuware announces this morning their intention to purchase Gomez, one of the two major forces in web application monitoring services (the other one being Keynote). This is a very interesting and potentially game changing move in both the end user experience monitoring and the application performance management (APM) markets.

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The 2009 ITMS Market: Get Real

Three quarters into 2009, and it seems that the market share of the four megavendors in IT management software (BMC, CA, HP and IBM) has again seriously eroded against their smaller competitors. The global ITMS market itself did not shrink: smaller vendors are reporting better results than forecast.

One major reason for this turn of events is that enterprises are struggling with smaller or flat IT budgets, and are therefore looking for a bigger bang for their buck, both in terms of CAPEX and OPEX: deals are smaller, more tactical in nature and tend to favor point solutions again.

But why is it that the larger ITMS vendors cannot compete with the smaller ones in tactical solutions?

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Old projects and new mainframes

A long time ago (about 35 years), I was the project leader and main designer of what was probably the first true distributed solution. It started with one of the largest bank in Europe, which went through a one month strike of its data center. In what was probably the Jurassic period of IT (which makes me a dinosaur), the centralized mainframe reigned supreme and of course the whole commercial part of the bank ground to a halt, and with it millions of customers who could not get to their money.. The CIO (the title did not exist at the time, but the function did) came up with the brilliant idea of putting a server in each branch, connected to the central mainframe through a network. Each local server had to be able to process locally, on a local "database" all the typical operations of the branch. This would guarantee that, in case of a repeat strike, the basic banking needs of customers would be covered. So armed with the latest minicomputer from Honeywell and several $Millions in project money, we set up developing everything in sight: network protocols, transactional languages and supervisors, local file structure, etc. Even intelligent virtual terminals.

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Is BTM the true BSM?

BTM (Business Transaction Management) is starting to appear on the radar screen of many clients and vendors. BTM is based on the ability to trace a transaction path through n-tiers of infrastructure components in order to provide 1) visibility into the transaction, 2) a template that could be used to understand how the infrastructure supports the transaction and 3) a basis to define whether a transaction behavior in normal, that is within the resource usage bracket observed historically or abnormal, signaling a performance or availability issue. Many products have appeared on the market over time to support this transaction tracing or transaction tracking ability. Bristol Technology (now HP), MQ Software Q!Nami (now BMC) supported MQ Series and Websphere MQ. ClearApp (now Oracle) and dynaTrace have this capability built in their SOA-APM monitoring solution, Optier and Correlsense provide visibility into transaction paths. Now we find this capability as one of the requirements for Application Performance Management: IBM ITCAM has looked into this issue from the get go, CA is developing the capability for Wily, HP is working on expanding Bristol, Compuware and Opnet can take advantage of their network analysis solutions to provide this information, Quest Software has added this feature in their APM solution and Precise is also walking the same path . Why?

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My Issue With ITIL

I received a comment from a Forrester client about ITIL and BSM, and their respective potential influence on each other. Most notably whether BSM was the only mean to implement ITIL.

My background is in process control automation and software engineering, two disciplines firmly grounded in technology and reality. For me, the word "process" invokes a very specific meaning and definition such as CPRET.

CPRET is a mnemonic for the basic definition of process in process engineering: it stands for Constraints, Product, Resources, input Elements and Transformation which are the basic components of a process. In process engineering, a process is a suite of transformations of elements into a given output (product) given a set of constraints and resources. From this definition, we can see that technology has a strong influence on the process: the transformation part is a clear function of the technology available as input and resources in IT are strongly influenced by the technology used. As we mostly deal with information and data in IT management processes, the type of data available is either helping or impeding the transformation part.

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Automating the Deployment of Applications

Following my papers on the future of software and the most recent one on the acquisition of SUN by Oracle, I continue to see signs that point in the direction of reducing the costs of application deployment. The first company that I talked to recently is Phurnace Software. Phurnace is specialized in the deployment of Java EE applications. The solution includes a discovery of the target environment, including the typical configuration settings. Then it does a validity check of all the settings, provide a "what if" sandbox to see the impact of setting changes, deploys automatically the application and finally provide a complete report on what was done. This is already very close to the complete "life cycle automation" concept that I think is the future of software applications. Then I talked to rPath: This is a very similar solution, but the end result is a run-time version of the application that can be deployed as an image on different platforms, from bare metal to virtual environments. rPath has already a number of followers in the ISV world, and is now looking at the enterprise one. Finally I also had a briefing with XebiaLabs in Holland, which appears as a direct competitor to Phurnace.

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IBM Tivoli's SMB Strategy

This week, IBM introduced its first two IT management appliances targeted at small and medium businesses. These first two solutions are part of a family that will eventually cover all the IT management needs of an enterprise, and cover availability and performance (IBM Tivoli Foundations Application Manager) and service desk IT services (IBM Tivoli Foundations Service Manager). The benefits expected are a rapid deployment at a lower cost due to the inclusion of automated configuration and deployment solutions. by itself, this is not really new and neither is it a complete revolution. Years ago, Oculan (now part of Raritan) and off shout of the Open NMS effort, presented a network management appliance for SMBs, with a similar strategy: sell exclusively through partners who can add their own flavor of services to the solution.

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