For systems management, complexity dictates a scalable approach - Page 3

 By Lynn Haber
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A new take on scalability

New issues are forcing vendors to revisit the notion of scalability. These include the need to manage intranets and extranets, and information correlation among networks, systems, and application management tools to help IT manage more proactively.

As Internet-based links with customers and suppliers become mission-critical, many users of existing systems- and network-management tools will be disappointed to discover gaps in the tools' capabilities. "Companies can purchase solid network- and systems-management products today, but if IT wants them to be strategic to the core business and be proactive, then there's more work for vendors to do," says Elliot of Cahners InStat. He notes that if some aspect of the enterprise infrastructure isn't being monitored, then it's unmanaged.

"Many corporations that purchased and installed suite products from companies like CA and Tivoli two to three years ago are still working on implementations, adding additional functionality over time."
--Stephen Elliot, Cahners InStat Group

The Internet has enabled the scaling of administration via Web-browser technology. At companies like Milpitas, Calif.-based LSI Logic, for example, anyone on the system with a Web browser can view information from Tivoli's Maestro, which the company uses for job scheduling. This kind of tool can help cut down on calls to the help desk when problems arise, says David Bristow, manager of enterprise management services at LSI.

The company is using Maestro for stress testing and capacity planning as it rolls out an SAP financial and human-resources package to more than 20 sites worldwide. The company has 4,000 employees.

Users agree that there's no easy way to measure product scalability. In fact, many say scalability is very environment-specific. But it's important for any organization looking for a systems- and network-management tool to spend time defining what scalability means to it now and in the future, as well as the specific needs of its business. //

Lynn Haber, based in Norwell, Mass., writes about information technology and related issues. She can be reached at lthaber@ix.netcom.com.

Systems- and network-management lessons learned

  Define what scalability means to your organization.

  Talk to independent business groups and consultants to understand various products and to explore scalability issues.

  Ask vendors to provide reference customers with requirements similar to yours.

 Decide up front the scope of the project, the cost, and the implementation time.

  Ask vendors about their professional service offerings to assist with implementation.

  Run a pilot project to measure product performance in your environment.

Related articles

"The cost of networking," InformationWeek, Oct. 19, 1998
Managing the cost and complexity of the network is taking a large toll of IT resources. This article outlines strategies to tame unwieldy networks and get them to work for your company.

"Vendors focus on Web traffic management," InternetWeek, Oct. 19, 1998
Several vendors offer products to track Web traffic and transactions, helping organizations make sense of how Internet resources are being used.

"Systems management: the other side of the ledger," PC Week, July 31, 1997
The Royal Bank of Canada is an example of how a large organization tackles its network/systems management problems to meet its business requirements. Bank IT managers discover that network/systems management is about more than just tools.

Read all about it

Quality of Service: Delivering QoS on the Internet and in Corporate Networks by Paul Ferguson and Geoff Huston
John Wiley & Sons, January 1998, ISBN 0471243582
Aimed at readers interested in QoS, implementing policy in networks, how to think about QoS, or how to get the different levels of service to better serve the mission of a business.

Managing the Corporate Intranet by Mitra Miller, Andrew Roehr, and Benjamin Bernard
John Wiley & Sons, December 1997, ISBN 0471199788
Offers network administrators hands-on solutions, action plans, and checklists for maintaining and optimizing the corporate intranet.

This article was originally published on Nov 17, 1999
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