Infrastructure Management Software Blog

The full stack (OMW, SiteScope, OMi, NNM, Service Desk, CMDB)

As I was getting ready to leave yesterday, a colleague stopped by my desk and asked “do you want to be a hero?” That certainly peaked my interest. It turned out we had a customer downstairs in our executive briefing center that wanted some clarification about all the pieces of our stack fit together.


Background
The customer was the CTO of a major IT firm in the Asia-Pacific region. They manage approximately 4,000 servers using OMW 8.1. They use both agents and SPIs, as well as SiteScope agentless monitoring. In addition, they monitor the faults and performance of their network using NNM, and roll those events into their Operations Manager console. In addition, they use Service Desk 4.5 along with a CMDB (configuration management database) that tracks all the configuration items and relationships among them across their enterprise. A *very* rough schematic  of what they have appears in the diagram below in red.



 Our discussions were divided into two main areas:
1. What they are doing today and what they should be doing?
2. What can they do in the future?


Current Situation
The first question was about best practices. Were they using the software correctly to manage their infrastructure? The answer is a resounding yes. They use OMW as the central event management console, collecting data from agents, SiteScope (agentless monitoring), and NNM for network events.


And, they integrate their service desk with OMW, opening and closing tickets, and tracking changes to the IT infrastructure in their CMDB. They implemented the CMDB about two years ago, in conjunction with their Service Desk implementation.


Next Steps
The next questions focused on what should they be doing or what can they do next to improve their IT management.


We started with a discussion about OMi. The customer was confused about how OMi fits with OMW - the first question was whether it replaces OMW, whether they receive OMi as part of an upgrade (entitlement), and finally, what specific value OMi provides since they currently use OMW as the centralized event consolidation tool.


As readers of this blog know, OMi is a separate product that adds on to Operations Manager. (See green box at top of the above diagram). Its main value is that it leverage the system topology information in the CMDB to greatly speed the time to repair IT problems, especially in complex environments. We have many resources to learn more about OMi, including:
Product overview
High-level webinar on OMi
Deep-dive technical webinar on OMi
Answers to technical questions on OMi


The next topic was automation. We talked about how companies use Operations Orchestration (OO)  to automate their IT processes (runbooks). OO uses events in OM to trigger its process flows. The good news was that this customer has spent the past two years documenting and improving their IT processes. They already know what processes occur frequently and how much manual effort they require. This may be the next logical step for them as it leverages their existing IT infrastructure and processes. EMA recently write a white paper on how process automation augments event consolidation.


Migration Challenges
One issue that arose was that the CMDB connected to their service desk is not the latest UCMDB that OMi uses for its topology-based event correlation (TBEC). The customer has two options here.
1. Leave the existing CMDB in place and let OMi create an operational data store that contains the configuration information it needs. The advantage of this approach is that it leaves the current management infrastructure intact and just adds OMi on top. OMi uses the SPIs to auto-discover the IT infrastructure and relationships among the elements. OMi’s data store is self-contained and requires minimal external input.
2. Migrate the existing CMDB associated with Service Desk to the latest version of UCMDB. The advantage of this approach is that the customer ends up with a single CMDB. They can migrate their existing data using a tool such as ICM (information consolidation manager) from Netscope.


Conclusions
For organizations already integrating their events into a single Operations Manager console, you are on the right track. If you already use a CMDB to track your IT infrastructure, you are very far along the IT management maturity curve, even more so if you use some means of automatic discovery to keep it current.


To take things to the next level, you have two options: focus on further event correlation and reduction with OMi or automate your existing IT processes with Operations Orchestration. You can pursue these in series or in parallel, depending on your priorities. Both will deliver a tangible return on investment and fast payback period.


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel.


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Should Your CIO Share a Console With the Server Admin?

Dell recently issued a press release announcing its plans to launch an enterprise console that uses a single console vs. “up to 9 for HP”.


HP’s approach has been to provide role-based tools that are optimized for a specific functional area. Each of our tools shares information across related domains.


Let me make an analogy. If you are building an office building, do you want a single set of plans or ones that domain experts can use to make fast and accurate decisions? The structural engineers need to understand loads on beams and columns. Electricians need to determine how to place the conduits and wiring. Plumbers need to know where to place pipes and how to calculate pumping loads and pressures.


Although each ‘discipline’ has their own tools to plan their work (engineer, plumber, electrician) they also have VISIBILITY across what the other disciplines are doing - the shared information model. They can see enough to make sure that (e.g.) electrical wiring is not routed too close to water pipes, or that routings are not planned to go through parts of the building which are fire control areas etc. They can see what they need to know to be successful but they do not have the tools (or skills) to plan the building structure – they are focused on the areas for which they are responsible - the wiring or plumbing.


The point is, each discipline needs specialized information to do their job correctly. The same is true with our IT management products.


Operations Manager consolidates events from ALL domains and ANY vendor, both physical and virtual. This includes servers (from HP and other vendors), storage (from HP and other vendors), networks, applications, middleware, and end-user events and even business transactions. It provides a single pane of glass to understand and identify the root cause of IT problems and greatly reduce trouble shooting time. It delivers tremendous value to our 10,000+ customers. Many use Operations Manager to consolidate events from their S**, I**, and D*** hardware, running Windows or UNIX. The primary users are in the Operations Bridge (ITIL terminology) or Network Operations Center (NOC).


Fixing incidents is closely aligned with the Service Desk. So, HP Operations Manager can automatically open service tickets in HP Service Center or other ticketing products. The service desk has a different tracking paradigm, so they view the information through a more appropriate user interface.


HP servers come with the most complete set of instrumentation available. SIM, Insight Control, Insight Dynamics, Insight Orchestration allow customers to provision, manage, and troubleshoot their systems at a very granular level. The user interfaces are optimized for server administrators, as opposed to first line operators or IT service desk staff. Any event information flows to Operations Center which can use it to open service tickets, if necessary.


For executives (both IT and line of business) who might want to see everything and think a single console is appropriate, we have such a product for that market. Business Availability Center creates dashboards that show the status of Business Services, including the dollar volume of transactions, service levels, and other high-level metrics. While a single pane of glass to the IT infrastructure may sounds appealing at the surface, this audience does not care about the status of individual servers or network devices. They want to know whether their business services are meeting performance and availability targets. And yes, if a problem appears in this console, there are tools to diagnose problems, identify the root cause, and get that information to the experts who can fix them.


And, I have not even discussed our comprehensive suite of business service automation products (BSA). These too deliver specialized functionality and tightly integrate with their respective domains (Server Automation, Network Automation, Storage Essentials, Client Automation) and share information with related products (Operations Orchestration can automate virtually any IT process across any domain).


HP has been doing this for over 15 years. We lead the market - check out the reports from any of the major analyst firms.


How many consoles do you use to run your IT infrastructure (event management, ticketing, troubleshooting, executive dashboard)? What is the ideal number?


For Operations Center <http://www.hp.com/go/opc>, Peter Spielvogel

EMA’s Top IT Trends for 2009 - Connecting the Dots

Enterprise Management Associates, an IT research company (that HP engages occasionally), published their list of 12 Hot IT Management Trends to Watch for 2009


Not surprisingly they highlight:



IT management initiatives that deliver measurable cost savings in a tight economy
Continued deployment of technologies that enable IT to be managed as a business
New management challenges introduced by the growth of emerging technologies


While the list of 12 hot trends is interesting at face value, my opinion is that successful companies will be those that can connect the dots and implement several of these ideas in parallel with tight connections among them.


For example, EMA lists CMDB, virtualization, managing IT as a business (BSM or business service management), and service desk as the first four items. Most customers I speak to also mention these as their top priorities.


Fortunately, in these situations, I can point them to HP solutions that cover these areas, complete with integrations among all the functions. In fact, companies that are willing (and financially strong enough) to update their IT operations during the current downturn will be very well positioned to grow during the next upturn if they build an adaptive IT infrastructure now.


What do you think will be the hot IT trends in 2009?


For HP Operations Center, Peter Spielvogel

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