Taking this trend to its logical end state, systems and application management will become the domain of engineers embedding expertise in software, rather than systems administrators sitting at a console. While IT will always require hands and heads, it’s likely the effort and time that goes into support will diminish over time; with higher percentages of IT budget and headcount allocated to new projects and products.
This, of course, is the H
oly Grail of enterprise management and will require continued evolution on the part of enterprise management vendors. This vision requires management systems that “watch” technology ecosystems, “understand” normal functioning, “analyze” real-time performance against norms, then “act” to automatically solve known problems.
We are already starting to see some of these capabilities from multiple vendors, including many of those mentioned in last month’s article. Most suite vendors, and some smaller ones, already offer products capable of automatically provisioning virtual servers in response to application-related problems. A related “hot off the presses” technology recently announced by RNA Networks is “virtual memory”. RNA delivers “virtual memory” pools across multiple clustered servers. Combined with automated provisioning of virtual servers, capabilities such as these will enable true “elastic computing” by eliminating one of the biggest risks of virtual server deployment—over utilization of host system resources.
Intelligent products can be excellent investments, as they supplement in-house expertise with world-class technology expertise from some of the best minds in the business. Encapsulated in software and productized, I’m convinced that such products will help drive down IT support and administration costs over time. The fully autonomic systems that I envision, however, will be years in the making. And while it might not be fair to compare products to a Holy Grail that is likely years in the future, this vision does provide a yardstick for measuring the evolution of management products over time.
Today, such products already deliver substantial reductions in the amount of time required to detect, analyze, and solve application-related problems. As time goes on these products will continue to evolve and cost efficiencies will become more marked.
Julie Craig is a senior analyst with Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates, an industry research firm focused on IT management. Julie can reached at [email protected]. Additional research into autonomic computing is available at EMA’s site at www.emausa.com. In addition, EMA is in the process of creating a new, End-to-End Application Management Online Guide, which will be available by the end of Q1, 2009. Continue to check EMA’s site for this Guide, which will feature detailed profiles of multiple application management products and be free of charge.