Understanding a Network Management Marketplace in Transition

Just a casual look at media headlines would suggest that the network marketplace is in transition. But the question remains, a transition to what?

Probably the most compelling evidence is that many major network management vendors have been acquired.

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Allen Bernard, Managing Editor.

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A few examples:

  • Event correlation and root cause vendor SMARTS by EMC in February of 2005.
  • Concord/Aprisma, a combination of network performance management and root cause analysis, by CA in June of 2005.
  • Micromuse, a leader in service level management with strong service provider roots by IBM, announced in December of 2005.
  • Quest acquired Magnum Technologies, with strengths in root cause, performance and service management in May of this year.
  • The drumbeat goes on. Most recently HP announced its intention to acquire Opsware, which includes strong network configuration management capabilities. On a less major scale, BMC acquired Real Ops with strong roots in network process automation, and BMC also formed a partnership with Entuity for root cause diagnostics; all three occurring in July of this year.

    Nevertheless, there are a significant number of free-standing network management vendors, a number of which have made acquisitions of their own. Among these, Fluke has acquired Crannog and Visual Networks for application service performance management, OPNET acquired Altaworks for Web-based, transaction-driven, application management, Network General acquired Fidelia for a variety of service and event management features, NetScout acquired Quantiva for application analytics, and NetQoS acquired RedPoint Systems for SNMP-based polling.

    All this activity suggests the network management marketplace is consolidating and reshaping itself at a rapid rate. Vendors are struggling not only to gobble up new real estate, but perhaps even more importantly, to reposition who they are within a broader management marketplace that’s similarly in a rapid state of flux.

    Planning & Strategies

    What does this mean for you in planning IT management strategies that increasingly depend on network efficiencies in reaching distributed environments? It at least implies that traditional siloed approaches to buying niche tools in isolation may not be the right strategy for very much longer. Along with all these acquisitions, in fact, the network management market is deconstructing and reconstructing itself to support more cross-domain requirements, better analytics, and more modular approaches to deployment and functional packaging.

    In this month’s column we’re going to look at some of the hot spots in the new network management marketplace. In next month’s column I’m going to provide some suggestions on how to capitalize on these changes without getting waylaid by all the confusion and sometimes all the hype around them.

    Deconstructing and reconstructing: Platforms such as CA, EMC and IBM are not just acquiring domain-specific management capabilities when they acquire network management vendors. They are also looking for extensible and reusable parts.

    For instance CA is evaluating how far it can extend SPECTRUM’s inferencing engine as a source of root cause diagnostics across the broader infrastructure, including servers and application services, just as EMC has extended SMARTS analytics to support storage and application flows. IBM will be leveraging Micromuse discovery and has already integrated its dashboard into a more cohesive service management capability.