More Content - Including Podcasts

Friday, June 20, 2008

HPSW - Part 3 - The Software Announcements

HP had three main announcements they were using Wednesday's mainstage session to make:

  1. Application Lifecycle: The enhanced integration and development in the Portfolio, Requirements, and Quality products, providing for the ability to manage the application lifecycle from start through to go-live. Maybe I missed a memo, but I didn't think that this was so new to HP Software?
  2. The Release Control product, and the claim that it helps with automating operations, and ties into that federated configuration management system; uCMDB. More detail around these includes that the tools have been revisited to accord with ITIL v3 in the sense of federating a Configuration Management System instead of gathering & replicating the config items across several barely linked data-stores. This is far more interesting of an announcement to me (as is the third one discussed subsequently) particularly with the time I have been putting into investigating vendor-based federated CMDBs and the mechanisms used to populate them.
  3. Virtualization: HP announced that they have been working tightly with vmware to create better management & operation of virtual environments. This was interestingly reflected on the show floor later . An increasing number of software partners are flogging integrated or at least somewhat coupled virtualization-oriented offerings that connect one way or another to the HP Software Suite. Most offerings are around the management of your virtualized infrastructure or the leveraging of virtualization for the development and quality processes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

HPSW - Part 2 - Business Availability Center Announcements

HPSW is staking claim on the #1 spot in data centre automation and IT service management. We're introduced to Ramin Sayer, the Senior Director for BSM & uCMDB products. Ben continues to play the role of Dilbert's boss, which is ironic for someone as bright as he is, I understand it's intended to summarize facts for any "pointy-haired idiots" in the audience but it gets annoying after a while... but I digress.

Ramin walks us through the BAC suite of tools; none of this really that new to me having been on the BAC training already, but a good over-view. The discussion goes around moving from reactive application and infrastructure management to proactive root cause analysis. Honestly, this message has been re-iterated for a number of years now, but what they're focusing on is how integrating the new technologies acquired in the past year or so is giving better functionality to this end.

OpsWare tools, Service Manager, the "new" NNM8i (topic for another posting), and uCMDB are all shown integrated to match the process of change with the actual change release. Release Control 4.0 gives impact analysis pulled from the change management system & the CMS, to give the CAB a better picture of change impacts. Very cool idea, but I have to ask how long it would really take any organization to get to the point where this is functional? Again, a likely suspect for another posting, because as the guys continue talking my mind starts spinning ff on how to make this kind of implementation work optimally.

We're introduced to the ex-OpsWare product, HP Operations Orchestration Centre and how it underpins the change life-cycle through another medley of integrations to provide process-oriented change, incident, problem, and configuration management. Ramin discusses BAC being used in the NOC or Operations Centre and the Application Support groups. With focus on product integrations, HP shows us how we should really buy all of their software, by moving the incident into Service Manager, then Release Control, and Network Automation tools all underpinned by uCMDB.

uCMDB is definitely getting reviewed in an upcoming post so stay tuned for that one.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

HP Software Universe 2008 - Las Vegas - Part 1

Wednesday morning rolls around pretty early in Las Vegas... It's day three of the "big show" for HP Software in the Americas. I'm sitting in the mainstage area waiting for this morning's keynotes:
  • Ben Horowitz, Jonathon Rende, and Ramin Sayor to speak about Business Technology Optimization
  • Christopher Rence to speak on HP Software at Fair Issac Corporation
  • Caleb Sima to show us what the "newly acquired" web security tools are all about and discuss current exploits
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau to educate the group on the true interdependance between mankind and nature
David Gee (VP of Software) kicked things off. A humorous vignette of David as Kevin Spacey's character from 21 and then David refers to today as "product day" which concerns me a bit in that we may be going down the road of sales pitches and not technology updates... but I'll be optimistic... as we go.

Ben Horowitz:

Two facts, three announcements:
1. HP stakes their claim as #1 in requirements management; segues to Jonathon Rende's talk. VP Products SOA, Jonathon introduces a virtual company called "Weeble Communications" and uses it to describe why HP SW is #1 in requirements management. PPM & it's integration with QC & other products is used as the starting point. Jonathon focuses on governing lifecycle processes. Ben keeps interjecting, and finally promises to stop the weeble puns, which is greeting by a trickle of applause. Content creation around workflows is pointed to as a differentiating factor, and how important it is to have their Out of the Box (OOB) content templates. Another factor Jonathon notes is the process of going from business priorities to project management and QC in parallel.

HP announced the Requirements Management module of the latest release of Quality Centre which puts requirements management into the same platform as the quality management tool set. The ability is provided for non-functional requirements (security, performance, etc) to be linked in early on in the project lifecycle. HP states that risk based decision making is available out of the gate and customizable to your organization - the announcement from Jonathon indicates that these can also be technical questions; and that this gives IT and the PMO the ability to create (and manage) contracts with the business areas around application project quality with most if not all vital decision points.

Continuing on about the features and functions , we're informed about agile quality practises that are being integrated into QC now, and that "lightweight out of the box" components are supporting this feature as well. Additionally Web 2.0 framework support has been added in Load Runner/Performance Centre, which seems an obvious mandatory in todays business space.

So, the marketing angle from HPSW on this topic discussing the solutions targeted at Project Portfolio Management, Quality Centre, Performance Centre, and Application Security Centre that provides for one application life-cycle vision across the organization. As I always say, great, but at what cost and how long would it really take to get this in place? As well, I'm not generally a big fan of "out of the box" processes and templates designed for your business processes, but without really rolling up my sleeves on this one I'm holding back a strong opinion on endorsement.

More to come in my next post...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Follow-Up on CMDB's Out of the Box

I had an email in response to my last post from "Manu" at ...

"I would say you should also consider evaluating non-framework related solutions like the ones from Ni2 or Managed Objects (I am not working for either, so this is impartial feedback from our customers).

This said, I personally think that evaluating CMDBs without the tools that populate them is limited in value. .."

The plan was to investigate the three products named (each claiming to be an industry leader) along with their respective discovery mechanisms, but I hadn't explicitly stated that, so good catch Manu!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CMDBs Out of the Box

I've started to evaluate the software CMDB solutions from various vendors - HP, BMC, and IBM to start with. I'll be posting the findings of my research as I go along, but certainly welcome any feedback or input from those of you who may be looking at these products as well, or in fact may have already obtained/installed one.

The products I'm looking at in particular are:
  • HP Software uCMDB
  • BMC Atrium
  • IBM Tivoli Asset Management

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on my research into these, including the hands-on lab work I complete.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Greening Your IT - Power Savings & ROI

Everyone wants to be responsible about their energy consumption, and while from a corporate perspective, it looks great in press releases and marketing materials, it's a hard direction to move in if you can't justify the expense in an objective manner.

So how do you establish the actual return on investment for your energy optimization projects?

The most obvious method, and the best place to start, is by having an objective baseline of your current energy costs related to IT. Make sure not just to include desktop computers and monitors, but any associated peripherals. Include the networked and personal printers. Include the Blackberries and cellphones because of their chargers. How about scanners? Air-conditioning? UPS and power management systems also have a draw and should be measured. Network gear, KVM switches, and the list can go on. For an extensive list contact for our whitepaper on Green IT. This audit can take some time (and therefore money), particularly if you don't have a CMDB (Configuration Management Database) in place already.

Incidentally, if you do have a CMDB, or are currently undertaking a CMDB project, have you included energy consumption rates as a CI (Configuration Item)? It's worth thinking about...

Once you have your baseline, you can now consider what initiatives your organization may undertake. Budget the cost of implementing those items, processes, or technologies (and are those costs that can be partially absorbed by budgets other than IT? ) and look at the energy reduction rates to calculate the initial, high-level ROI for the project.

But there's other ways to reduce those costs. In the Province of BC, BC Hydro has joint rebate programs with the Provincial Government that can make significant additions to your ROI calculations. If you are reading this from a location other than British Columbia the odds are that some similar rebates may be available for you as well.