SteelCentral Encouraging Collaboration Across IT Silos



If there is one theme in IT infrastructure that I see occurring over and over again in today’s industry, it is cross-domain management.EMA logo

We are all familiar with the network operations center (NOC), home to the network-centric view of infrastructure monitoring. Enterprise IT organizations have multiple technology domains that are managed by specialized administrative teams with siloed management tools. The NOC is just one such example. However, these silos are a problem. Culturally they discourage collaboration during troubleshooting events, and technically they lead to management tools that lack end-to-end views into business-centric objectives like service quality and end-user experience.

Things are changing, and the days of the independent NOC are coming to an end. In our most recent network management megatrends research, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that 40% of enterprises have integrated network operations monitoring into a converged, cross-domain operations center.   These operations centers are environments where network engineers, systems administrators, storage systems managers, virtualization specialists, and application managers work together to monitor services and manage events. These cross-domain teams can help enterprises eliminate the operational silos that impede their ability to focus on business objectives like service quality. But these teams need integrated tools to succeed. EMA research has found, for example, that 39% of enterprises require their network management tools to be integrated with application performance management (APM) tools.

Establishing an end-to-end, service-centric view of IT operations is really about understanding and modeling relationships—relationships that exist both within technology domains and between them. For instance, an APM tool needs to understand how web servers, application servers, and database servers interact to deliver a service. Network performance management (NPM) tools need to understand how each node on a network combines to provide a network path for those applications to traverse.

For a few years now, Riverbed’s SteelCentral family of products has offered many of the basic APM and NPM tools that can serve as the basic building blocks of a cross-domain operations toolset. NetSensor monitors the health and performance of network components. NetProfiler measures overall network performance through packet and flow analysis. AppResponse provides network-based application performance management. And AppInternals provides code-level application performance and end-user experience monitoring. Each of these tools on their own can provide good insight to the network management team or the application team, but together they can provide unified visibility into service quality.

With SteelCentral Portal, Riverbed has addressed the requirement of unified visibility. Portal is a front-end integration of the four SteelCentral tools. Combining Riverbed’s AppMapper, an application discovery and dependency mapping (ADDM) tool, with live monitoring and performance data from all of the SteelCentral tools, Portal gives infrastructure operations an integrated view of user experience, application performance, system performance, and network performance in one interface. Administrators can quickly zero in on service quality events in the traditional ADDM interface and then drill into APM and NPM views that get to the root of the problem. Such a tool should help IT operations maintain an end-to-end service quality view of the data center, and it should encourage collaboration across IT silos.

This is a guest blog post by Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst, Network Mangagment, at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).



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