Vieo Raises the Bar

Application management startup eyes on-demand support where others leave off.

Application management startup Vieo Inc. took a swipe at more established players with the release last week of the Vieo 1000, its new approach to managing applications end to end.

The management appliance automatically discovers, models and maps the application environment in a data center. It then monitors application behavior not only to identify potential problems but also to analyze the interaction of components to find ways to optimize the application infrastructure.

The Vieo 1000 automatically makes changes to the environment or offers recommendations to operators on optimizing the environment for better fulfillment of service-level agreements, according to Bob Fabbio, CEO of the Austin, Texas, company.

The appliance can discover, monitor and analyze the behavior of a range of environments, including BEA Systems Inc., Apache Software Foundation and Microsoft Corp. application servers; Oracle Corp. and Microsoft databases; and AIX, HP-UX, Linux and Solaris operating platforms.

Beta testers at Smith & Associates Inc., a Houston semiconductor distributor, learned through the Vieo 1000 appliance that one of the companys applications left too many database connections open. Managers were able to go back to developers with useful information to optimize the applications performance, said CEO Bob Ackerley.

Fabbio said Vieos appliance actually delivers on the promise to provide on-demand or autonomic computing—while the large vendors are still waiting for their strategies to mature.

"Our value proposition is to reduce IT costs while protecting application service levels that impact business results," Fabbio said. "Were now giving IT organizations the ability to reduce overprovisioning, increase resource utilization and significantly lower management overhead without adding risk to the business. It gives organizations the ability to replace a very expensive control system used today with a more cost-effective, automated control system that ensures application service levels."

At least one industry observer agrees. "Everything IBMs been touting is being delivered here," said Lynn Nye, founder of APM Advisors, in Portland, Ore. "The [management] framework companies are always slow to innovate, but the bar has been raised."

Unlike such framework providers as IBM, with its Tivoli software, or Hewlett-Packard Co., with OpenView, "the Vieo solution started with a clean sheet of paper—and not to support anything they were doing in the past," said Smith & Associates Ackerley. "They produce an optimized solution for heterogeneous ... environments."

The appliance combines Layer 2 Ethernet switching at 10/100/1,000 M-bps speeds with next-generation management functions. It is installed between host servers and network switches, routers or aggregation devices. The base unit includes two management blades that provide a total of 24 management ports, but the appliance can be scaled for larger data centers by purchasing expansion units that provide 48 additional management ports each.

Vieo, founded two years ago by former IBM Tivoli executives, sets out to address many of the shortcomings of the older management frameworks, including the heavy deployment and maintenance burdens of the frameworks and ease-of-use problems.

For Smith & Associates, installation took a week, but Ackerley said he believes the installation time is even briefer now. "That is a huge factor in training," he said. "We found people could start working with Vieo and get up the learning curve quickly."

Ackerley said the Vieo 1000 should eliminate his companys requirement to cross-train IT specialists in several disciplines and increase application reliability. "We think one of the big benefits well get from Vieo is that, as our company grows, we now have something that can better manage the load. Instead of buying more servers for more capacity 18 months from now, we have a tool that can manage the load on our existing infrastructure."

Vieo executives are so confident about the Vieo 1000s capabilities that they are offering to have it installed in company data centers free of charge and guarantee that within 24 hours it will outperform any of the companys existing management tools.

The appliance is available now, and pricing starts at $150,000.