I talk with the press frequently. They thankfully whack down my ramblings into concise quotes. For those who prefer to see more, I try to
dump publish slightly polished up conversations I have with press into Press Pass.
Barbara Darrow of TechTarget recently asked me what effect unified, single-stack servers could have on the existing IT Management landscape. If these offerings, like Cisco’s UCS are really “everything you need in a box,” what place do traditional, 3rd party systems management vendors have? Here’s my response:
When it comes to unified devices, I don’t see the dynamics changing dramatically. At the moment, while things like monitoring and event management are required to run IT, they’re not big cash cows for large systems management companies compared to higher level functions like service desks, the process around service management, reporting, and keeping up with virtualization and self-service portals (which is what a lot of what “private cloud” ends up being).
One of the major problems with these bundled systems management offerings is that they tend to only work well with the hardware or software stacks they’re bundled with. You still need to monitor all that other stuff you have: like your Microsoft software, your routers, SAP installs, Unix boxes, etc. I typically see these embedded systems management offerings used as the best way to drill down and diagnose a problem on that system [the end-to-end stuff demo'ed at SpringOne 2010 from VMWare/SpringSource is an excellent example], but the staff tends to use a general purpose monitoring tool to keep track of everything in IT on a day-to-day basis. There’s also a tremendous amount of concreted-in legacy that requires monitoring, despite what fancy new “cloud in a box” machines might offer. Of course, if all you have as a UCS or the like, you may be set.
Raw monitoring hasn’t been an incredibly hot area for sometime, so there’s not a tremendous amount to loose. The more important turf is the software around helping IT manage change requests, keep track of assets, and otherwise assist in the processes and workflows IT goes through day-to-day…and then reporting on all of that for upper-level management who need all the muck below them summarized in a dashboard, or report, to help make decisions about what to keep doing, what to starve or kill, and new IT services to start.
Others like IBM Tivoli are smartly moving into other industries (like monitoring power grids, city infrastructure, etc.) where new networks are emerging and require monitoring afresh. If everything is IP-addressable and on a network, you can tweak your data center monitoring tools and apply them to, say, large power grids or even “nodes” in waste-water management. This last point is pretty unique to IBM.
Cisco has partnered with BMC around UCS, which is evidence of BMC keeping “in the game” despite Cisco trying to capture more of the data center dollars.
Buyers tend to maintain a healthy skepticism about buying everything from one vendor: the other side of “one throat to choke” is “one big check to write.” Instead, buyers tend to still like the ability to pit vendors against each other to drive down cost and get better service.
But, to your point, all of the vendors are going crazy for this one check to write approach: Oracle would love to see people buy their entire stack, as would IBM, and Dell’s VIS are all going towards this idea.
Disclosure: IBM and Dell are clients, as is Microsoft.