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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Volunteering - Part III; Mom Said There'd be Days Like These...

Remember when I said all the heavy lifting for the itSMF National Conference was done? Yeah. About that...
So, between people who deeply resent not being chosen to speak, and people who seem to have extremely particular restrictions as to how and when they will speak, it's been a challenge.
Not to mention the usual number of folks who for very legitimate reasons have to opt out of speaking and then we need to make sure we have others willing to step in even though they were initially rejected for the conference.
However, it's all done now, we've got our speaker list set and you can check it out here.
Now we get into selecting the "table topics" for lunch-time hosted discussions, bios for all the speakers, and getting the speakers to put their presentation into our standardized slide-deck.
It's been a fair bit of work to get to this point, but because of great teamwork it wasn't as hard as it could have been! And now it's just getting easier and May 5 is getting real close!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

nworks VMware SPI for HPSW OMW8

Some late breaking news. I found out today that nworks, the maker of the most excellent VMware & BES SPIs for the OVOW 7.x platform have committed to having an Operations Manager for Windows 8.0 compatible SPI available April 7th (2008). You heard it on ITManageCast first.

HP Partner Enablement Galaxy - March Part Deux

Well, we've completed the third day here in "Nawleens" and my take is that PEG this Spring has been better than last Fall. I know Steve Myers took quite a bit of the feedback from the fall session to heart and it helped improve the sessions we had.

I've been taking the OMW8/SiteScope session, and we've completed the OMW8 sessions led by Lars Droeger from HPSW Germany. Lars was able to give a great hands-on experience as we worked through VMs of OMW. I stayed late last night to tackle some extra labs, but have felt that I've gotten quite a bit out of that. This afternoon we tackled DMA (Dependency Mapping Automation) which is effectively the automated connector between OMW8 and uCMDB. Dave Trout from HP was leading the DMA sessions. Unfortunately for Dave he was trying to get us to use lab VMs back at Fort Collins but the bandwidth out of the hotel was so limited that RDP sessions had screen refreshes that just c-r-a-w-l-e-d. I made sure to pass that feedback to Steve tonight.

Speaking of tonight, I should mention that Steve Myers sure can throw a party. It was the Riverboat Gambling Theme Party tonight for everyone attending and Steve & Opus (the conference organizing company) put on a fantastic dinner. There were a few tables with different gambling games, a live band playing Dixieland, a couple of gents from the Bayou with three 'gators to play with, and lovely young show-girls to greet us at the doors. Not to mention the open bar & fantastic variety of food. So, my thanks to everyone involved in putting that on!

Back to the learnin' an' stuff. I was able to get a lot of knowledge out of the DMA session with Dave Trout. HP's uCMDB is a powerful tool, but I'm thinking they may have it priced out of reach for most. Some of the underlying technology is impressive though, I was particularly impressed with the elegant "Smart Message Mapping" solution for replacing SPI discovered service objects with objects/relationships from the CIs in the CMDB. It's powerful, but a pretty expensive solution. Any of my clients can contact me for ball-park pricing. It does seem that the messaging from HP is that uCMDB is going to be core/central to all their major ESM offerings.

HP OM8 for Windows - First Review

While at PEG March '08 I've been attending the Operations Manager Windows 8/SiteScope training. I've had the web-delivered "intro to" session a couple of months ago, but there's nothing like the hands-on with the HP experts there to walk you through and answer questions.

Prior to this week, I knew at a high-level what most of the new features/functions to the Windows version of the product would be. A lot of the functionality that was previously only available with the Unix version has been ported. I also knew about Reporter, the HTTPS agents, and Performance being packaged up together in OMW8.

My initial thoughts after three days of instructor-led hands-on is that there are enough significant improvements here for any OVOW 7.x users to start planning their upgrade. And anyone who is going down the path of trying to find an ESM solution should give this product a fair shake in their evaluations.

Nodes Business Like ESM Business
Having the External Nodes feature available for the Windows platform is great. You can use the standard pattern matching syntax for OM to match messages from nodes not in DNS against "catch-all" groups and this is helpful as many organizations don't seem to have their DNS 100% clean... But besides processing messages, the ability (which has been there previously) to have nodes without agents in the node & service topology is quite handy. HP has put a new wrapper around the node config editor which is useful since the addition of the HTTPS agent type makes node config a little trickier than it used to be. However, you can always jump to "expert mode" and do things the "old" way. Obviously, the inclusion of the HTTPS agents is a huge leap forwards for the Windows management world, but beware - it's not just a single port each way to manage through the firewall. Another really nice touch is the ability to push HTTPS agents to UNIX nodes. This function is technically unsupported, but easy and useful.

Service Please!
Version 8 also brings the CLI access to the configuration of service via the service API.

Config This
For anyone who's rolled up their sleeves and dug into the OVOW registry previously, you'll be glad to hear about the Server Configuration editor in OMW8. Many of the settings and configuration that were largely unknown and only available through registry edits are now contained in this powerful GUI. Config items from auditing to database to agent certificates are accessed through this interface. Another long-awaiting config item is the ability to add AD groups to roles in the User Role Config Editor.

Other useful features include the unplanned/scheduled outages, remote action security, and detailed heart-beat polling config options.

All-in-all, if you're an OVOW shop today, start talking to your consultants about the upgrade (it's going to take some planning!) and if you're not using a tool like this yet, check it out. Pricing is still going to be the major issue for anyone new to this market space, and I'm waiting to hear from HP if they'll be offering an "Express" package like they did for OVOW 7.5x to make it more affordable to the mid-tier market.

Monday, March 17, 2008

HP Partner Enablement Galaxy - March Edition

St. Patrick's Day finds me back in New Orleans, and back at the HP Software Partner Enablement Galaxy (PEG) for ramping up my Ops Centre & Site Scope skills/knowledge.

So first off, Happy St. Patrick's day to everyone!

This morning started off with the general session from 8:00 to noon (well, 6:00 to 10:00 according to my body) but despite the fact that I don't handle jet lag well, I was able to be completely attentive. Steve Myers from HP started things off with over-views and clarification on HP's bail policy for people who decided to go out to Bourbon Street. Steve also shared some other interesting facts about PEG in general such as:
  • This PEG has 30% greater attendance than the last one
  • This PEG has a large Central/South American contingent
  • 155 "students" are here representing partner companies from Canada (yay!) to Argentina
  • This time 'round there are 8 tracks and 23 instructors
  • Onsite certification will be available this Friday
Jim Murphy came on stage to discuss the vivit training lined up for HP Software Universe in June and encourage everyone present to consider attending those sessions.

Steve finished up his sessions by letting us all know that PEG will be here once more, the week of Oct 6 2008.

Next up was Mike Procopio from HPSW to address the group on the HPSW Network Lifecycle Management initiatives, and how HP wants partners engaged in that. Mike went through the standard aligning IT to business pitch, and discussed the concern of CIO/CTOs of keeping the network operational, meeting SLAs, and cost-effective. An interesting factoid he brought up was an estimate of average network downtime impacting business bottom-lines at $70,000/minute. I'm thinking this is an average across Fortune 500s, but interesting factoid none-the-less.

Mike talked in depth about NNM8i, the Performance iSPI for NNM, change & config management, and AlarmPoint Express. Gotta say I've never personally been a huge AlarmPoint fan, but I will make the time to take a look at the new offering bundled with full purchases of NNM8i. Stay tuned for a review at some point.

A major point Mike made that clarified some confusion for me was that Performance iSPI is NOT intended to replace OVPI (or HP Software Performance Insight), but instead it appears to me to be more like a "pay for" integration piece that gives you "OVPI light" integrated into your NNMi architecture. Again, more on that topic as things develop!

Chuck Fugee & his team of SAs were introduced to everyone. Nice to meet them. :-)

Next up was Scott Strubel. I haven't had a chance to talk to Scott for a while; not surprising because he always seems to me to be one of the busiest execs in HP - although if you can find him he always does make some time to talk. Scott addressed us partner organizations about ways that the HP sales force and partners should be working together, the state of BTO (Business Technology Optimization) solutions today, what HP needs from the partners in as far as solution offerings go, and some re-iteration around HPSU in Vegas, and the Partner Summit to be held there.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of the Partner Summit when I've attended HPSU or OVFI conferences. It's nice that the big partners get their pats on the back & trophies, but the info there I find really oriented towards software sales and not implementation guys & gals. Give me case-studies or in-depth techie sessions anytime!

Scott is planning on being in Central Canada next week so heads up HP Canada Software Sales folks!

Scott made reference to the number he mentioned last October, of FTE and professional services consulting hours that HP software sales were planning on driving to the partner base. Then he informed us that it looks like HP is tracking to exceed those numbers. Good news for the partners! Well, the ones that HP is working actively with anyhow.

The last item from Scott that really caught my attention was the mention of HP shifting some percentage of it's software sales attention towards the upper end of the SMB market. There wasn't a lot of info on that, but as it's a space that Tsunami actively engages in I must admit that piqued my curiousity - More info please, Mr. Strubel! Perhaps my channel manager can update me after he's had his visit with Scott next week. ;-)

Last up was Victor Fadool from HPSW Professional Services. Victor spoke on a number of items, but I must confess that I glazed over a bit as it was very US oriented, and rarely discussed how the Canadian organization might find ways to work better with the Western Canadian partners... It was interesting to hear him make mention of work done in conjunction with some mysterious un-named partner at BC Hydro. Apparently Service Management work. Sounds like a good story, if the work has been as successful as it was promoted as being - so mystery partner(s), here's your invitation to contact me for an interview about the project, and give a presentation to our Vancouver local chapter of Vivit!

So that was the general session and the morning of DAY ONE. We next went to lunch where I was able to briefly chat to Scott Strubel and get a little more detail on what's up for Canada (I'm not posting that though, it'll be a suprise for my Canuck counter-parts!).

The afternoon got us started on our break-out sessions. Stay tuned for updated posts on those. I'm taking the OVOW8/SiteScope session, and I'll post all the late-breaking news I get from that. I know my customers are eager to hear more about OVOW 8.

Volunteering - Part 2

Wow, I'm bad at updating this blog. :-) That's got to be annoying for the 2 people who read it.
On the plus side, there's lots to talk about now.
The CSI:Vancouver conference is moving along for May, and just this past weekend the Program team (which I'm on) finished up the conference sessions. We've got a fantastic group of speakers ranging from international ITIL experts to local (BC) organizations who are willing to share their experiences with everyone else.
This week I'm out of town in New Orleans at the HP Partner Galaxy event (post to come on that!) so I'll have some cycles in my evening to work on ITManageCast.

At the same time, I've been working with some folks from Vivit (the former OpenView Forum International, HP Software users group) to put together sessions for this summers HP Software Universe in Las Vegas. We've got some great speakers lined up for those sessions which is great.

Back to CSI:Vancouver & itSMF Canada. With the speaker selection completed, and us having decided the order in which we want all the speakers, we now have sent out all the speaker agreements. Assuming that everyone agrees, and that there are no last minute cancellations we'll be good to go! No-one ever said this was going to be easy! Wait a minute, I think I did in my last post. D'Oh!

Well, the next steps are to get the presentation slide-deck template out to all the speakers, and get them to send us their slide-decks for their presentations. That way, we get to both review those, but also to make sure that the speakers are keeping on track and will be ready. So once that gets underway I'll update the blog with the results!