Tools Give IT Better Look

Managed objects, CA, IBM ready solutions that give IT a handle on tech problems.

With IT departments under increasing pressure to prove their value to the CEO or face being outsourced, vendors large and small are prepping updated software that helps businesses better understand the impact of technology infrastructure problems on top-line business.

Managed Objects Inc. next week will unveil Formula 3.1 with a focus on making it fast and easy for customers to see the service impact of a technology problem. The tool lets users determine in a single mouse click the source of a problem that causes business service degradation.

But large competitors of the maturing tool are not standing still. Both Computer Associates International Inc., which inspired the tools creation through its Unicenter Business Process Views, and IBMs Tivoli unit are working on enhancements to their respective offerings.

Rather than focusing on just the CPU, response time or application availability, "IT is being pushed to provide business-oriented displays of how IT is performing," said Debra Curtis, an analyst for Gartner Inc., in Amherst, N.H.

But getting to this level of sophistication requires more than just installing such systems, cautioned Curtis. "This requires fairly significant maturity in documented IT management processes," she said.

Formula 3.1 gathers event and performance data from a variety of management tools in use at a customers site and correlates that data in its console, according to Managed Objects officials, in McLean, Va. Service definitions are also created that relate technology components to business services to create business service views.

One view, for example, might show business processes that make up online transactions. When the transactions slow, the view might indicate that credit authorization is causing the problem.

Formula 3.1 allows users to select a managed object—a business service, a supporting business process such as credit authorization or an IT infrastructure element such as a server—to prioritize and resolve problems.

"Weve had ways to show [that] if this business process is out of state, whats making it out of state. Now weve made it even simpler by taking a lot of the intelligence of the platform and putting it into the user interface," said Siki Giunta, president and CEO of Managed Objects.

Tools such as Formula 3.1 as well as the Tivoli Business Systems Manager and the business process views bundled with CAs Unicenter NSM software allow IT to create more meaningful SLAs (service-level agreements).

CA, for its part, has integrated its business process views into a number of Unicenter offerings, including Unicenter Service Level Manager and Unicenter NSM. The Islandia, N.Y., company is working to add an object-oriented data layer, dubbed MDI (Management Data Integrator), that allows users to create compound objects as discrete object elements, according to Gale Persil, product director for Unicenter NSM, in Herndon, Va.

MDI will be another common service available to all Unicenter offerings, beginning with Unicenter NSM Version 3.1, which is in beta testing and due by midyear.

Tivoli, meanwhile, will release this month Version 2.1.1 of its Tivoli Business Systems Manager, which filters out the events generated when a server is brought down for maintenance. That keeps such scheduled maintenance from affecting SLAs that measure downtime. By years end, Tivoli will ship Version 3.1 of the tool bundled with IBMs MQSeries messaging middleware, WebSphere server and DB2 to reduce the cost of ownership.