Feeds

IMS grows small

Now everyone can manage

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Comment It may seem something of a contradiction in terms, but for any business to be agile and effective these days, it also has to have a high degree of control in place. It is vital for the IT function to know exactly what it happening in the hardware and software infrastructure, down to the smallest detail, if it is to be able to change the operations and processes of that infrastructure as quickly as any agile business will require.

It becomes even more important as businesses move towards implementing Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs) where, in practice, any application or utility could find itself running in collaboration with any other, on any server in any datacentre the business might either own or run services upon. It is like watching a top sports star – the fact is that though their grace, speed and agility may look easy and natural it is in large part the product of absolute control over the smallest actions of their bodies. In the same way, the way that an agile business can adapt easily and quickly to exploit new market opportunities, though it may look like luck or a CEO’s "Midas Touch", will in large part be down to the depth of control that is present over the IT infrastructure.

Calling all agents

That is why Infrastructure Management Systems (IMS) are now seen as one of the big markets now. The IMS provides the tools for a single operator to monitor and manage the activities and performance of every piece of hardware on the corporate network, and the installation and operation of all the software. Agent software is now available for just about every type of hardware device, from the latest communications servers through to the most ancient of Digital Equipment PDP-11 minicomputers. Adaptors are also available for most of the applications and software tools that any business will use. Indeed, many of them are now freely available from the open source community, while any "specials" are developed by the IMS vendors and, normally, then submitted to the open source pool of agents and adaptors.

Using these, management systems can be built that both monitor problems and increase operational flexibility. For example, should a fan inside a server stop, causing the server to overheat and its performance to be threatened, this can be shown as a problem on the IMS, and action can be taken to shut the server down, shift its workload safely, and institute remedial action. It also provides the capability to initiate the loading of the applications and utilities that constitute a service onto selected hardware, run that service to completion of the process and then close it down cleanly, effectively "returning" the applications and hardware to the common pool of resources.

These days IMS covers such tasks as service desk management, call management, escalation management, change management, online and remote support, hardware/system maintenance, troubleshooting, health checks and performance fine tuning. Other features that are a part of IMS are system administration, security remediation, backups/restores, network monitoring and management, basic reporting, advanced services and intrusion detection services.

A side benefit of increasing importance is the fact that an IMS also provides far greater auditability in terms of the growing compliance and governance issues that companies must meet. The regulations and legislation which businesses have to meet include The European Data Protection Directive, Basel II and Sarbanes Oxley. All of them emphasise the importance of data control and integrity. So, with an IMS in place it becomes very difficult for individual staff to change any part of the infrastructure, while IT staff can ensure that only approved applications are used to run business processes where compliance is an issue.

Feeling big

Till recently such capabilities have been the preserve of the big systems vendors working with the biggest customers. Indeed, many of those big customers have outsourced the whole project to the likes of IBM’s Global Services, if only because their own businesses have been global in reach. But now the market is starting to expand beyond the major players and big systems environments.

The availability of low-cost commodity servers, coupled to virtualisation technologies, is making the idea of the "datacentre" equally applicable to much smaller businesses. So the traditional leaders in IMS, such as IBM with Tivoli and HP with OpenView, have now been joined by a growing band of competition. These include Microsoft with SMS, TrackIT, LANDESK, Fluke Inspector, Real Secure IDS Suite, Sonicwall, Computer Associates Arc Serve and Veritas, to name but a few.

These "packaged" IMS solutions, which have now been joined by the likes of HP which now offers a Windows-based implementation of OpenView (rather than the standard Unix-based version) at a much lower cost can, when combined with low-cost commodity servers, turn the provision of IMS solutions into a market opportunity for systems integrators and the larger resellers. It also offers them the possibility of offering remote infrastructure management services, where the systems integrators provide the management as an outsourced service.

By definition, it is also a solution that small and medium-sized businesses can now contemplate, which can increase their prospects for building more agile and responsive businesses. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.