We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 5 May 2002 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Tackling the pain factor

With enterprises decrying the cost, complexity and failure rate of framework solutions, vendors have begun preaching the modular ‘building block’ approach to enterprise management, an approach which they claim deals with the immediate pain organisations face and yields fast return-on-investment

Building blocks|~||~||~|Enterprise management solutions used to conjure up thoughts of costly implementations, which, when finally nearing completion two or three years down the line, enterprises had either lost sight of the initial reason for deploying such a solution or found the majority of it was either redundant or unused. Evidence of this complexity comes from a Gartner Group study, which revealed that 70% of framework management solutions were regarded as failures by customers. “Enterprises carried out studies after implementations and found that in most cases the software they had bought for enterprise management was still on the shelf and just small components were installed,” says Abdul Karim Riyaz, marketing manager, Computer Associates Middle East (CA-ME). Aside from the massive capital outlay and lengthy implementation times, enterprises have also struggled to realise any benefit in terms of costs or productivity from pursuing the wholesale framework approach. “Enterprises realised that this big bang approach was the key deterrent to return-on-investment (ROI),” adds Riyaz.Just as customers have woken up to the complications of deploying framework solutions, so have the vendors. CA and IBM Tivoli — two of the main proponents of the framework approach — have restructured their software management portfolios into more flexible and self-contained modules. According to Tom Scholtz, vice president, international global networking strategies, Meta Group, “the whole framework approach is finally dead,” he comments. CA rebranded its UniCenter TNG offering to UniCenter 3.0 as part of its attempt to distance itself from its framework history. Tivoli for its part recently slimmed its portfolio range down to just 32 solutions by combining products with similar functions.“Its not the big bang approach that was there when IBM bought Tivoli in 1996,” states Milko van Duijl, vice president, Tivoli Software, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA).“We had so many products… To combine inventory management and software distribution is a logical step and our customers were increasingly using them together. We now have 32 solutions within four major areas… it makes the product portfolio more overseeable,” he adds.With the framework approach seemingly consigned to history, vendors are touting the merits and quick ROI modular solutions can deliver to enterprises. According to HP’s Anas Jwaied, regional sales manager, software sales organisation, Middle East & North Africa (MENA), the modular approach is not a new concept. HP has been pushing its “building block” approach for some time and has leveraged this model to differentiate itself from competitors.“The building block approach is flexible, easy to deploy and with shorter and more visible ROI. It also allows customers to define their requirements and priorities and deploy them accordingly,” he adds.||**||Cutting costs, saving time|~||~||~|For Dubai Internet City (DIC), improved manageability and flexibility, combined with a shorter and simpler implementation time, were the main reasons behind its decision to deploy HP’s OpenView solution. “We began deploying OpenView modules 18 months ago when we started to build our network,” explains Faisal Aljundi, network performance team leader, technology department, DIC. “Because OpenView is a modular software we could utilise it in a lot of areas — network management, system management, application and database management, fault management and service level agreement (SLA) management,” he adds. According to Aljundi, the modular approach enabled DIC to begin implementing the various blocks simultaneously and the OpenView modules are responsible for all DIC’s management concerns, with the exception of security. Although there were a few teething problems during the deployment, Aljundi remains impressed with the speed of implementation and the reasonably short amount of time it has taken to get the complete solution working effectively.“The OpenView modules took a couple of months to implement and run smoothly. But [the solution] needed a lot of tuning for the next 10 months to enable us to achieve more than 95% utilisation,” he says.As at DIC, management of the network is often the starting point for organisations when they begin deploying enterprise solutions. Vendors and analysts have suggested many reasons for this trend including, standards, performance and the evolution of management solutions from networks themselves.“Systems management started more and more when the network started to grow. Networks require management because there are more individual components,” comments Tivoli’s van Duijl.“From a performance point of view, the network is probably the first component that enterprises are concerned about, so they that start with that,” says Riyaz.“Normally, in an organisation when performance comes down, fingers point first to the network administrator. So it’s good for them if they have a network management solution to say ‘I’m clean, you need to look somewhere else,” he adds.However, Meta Group’s Scholtz suggests that the network is often the starting point for enterprise management solutions because it yields the simplest and fastest return-on-investment as a result of the compatibility of network components.“Network management is certainly more mature and stable. Network management also has a standard, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). All of the network component manufacturers design their equipment to be SNMP compliant so it usually has some manageability built into,” Scholtz explains.“We don’t have that in systems management and its usually a good starting a point, where you can get shorter term revenues and benefits. Systems management tends to be more complicated and more diverse in terms of what you have to achieve and it takes longer to implement,” he adds.||**||Network management|~||~||~|From a regional perspective, vendors have also noticed that network management is reasonably developed in comparison to other areas of the IT infrastructure. Network administrators are beginning to recognise not only the need for management tools, but also for predictive and analytical tools that will allow them to deal with any potential network problems before they actually occur.According to BMC Software, regional enterprises have shown increased interest in its network integration tool Patrol DashBoard, which provides users with trend analysis and capacity planning functionalities. The vendor also claims that most of this interest has been generated through Internet search engines.“From a Middle East perspective — and I suppose it shows how advanced the network administrators are in understanding their problems — we’ve had in excess of 300 requests for downloads of DashBoard — and that’s without us selling to them,” says Tim Peck, regional manager, BMC Software.However, the use of predictive and analytical tools is not restricted to network management. Their use can extend to other areas of enterprise management, including security and storage. Tivoli’s van Duijl believes the challenge in enterprise management now lies in the integration of these various management modules.“The drive now is to combine network management with overall systems management and business impact management,” he explains.“We are focusing more and more on bringing the business and IT together. So managing not just the individual technology components but focusing on how technology as a whole impacts the business. We need to provide a very coherent end-to-end view of all the four areas: storage, security, configuration & operations, and performance & availability,” van Duijl adds.However, Meta Group’s Scholtz warns against the blanket approach many vendors push when it comes to integrating enterprise management solutions. Although vendors may be content to initially sell just one module or management tool, ultimately they are looking to entice enterprises into deploying their complete platform. As Tivoli’s van Duijl comments: “When you use all the Tivoli products and our service layer together it works best.”However, cautions Scholtz: “Enterprises should avoid vendors that say they can do everything — there is no such thing as a one-stop solution. Most organisations use multiple vendor solutions for systems management — even the ones that decided they were only going to go for one vendor or management suite.” As enterprises look to combine the various elements of their solutions, vendors are posed with the challenge of conveying to both management and the often departmentalised IT teams the impact that centralised management can have on their organisations.“There are very few organisations where the network team are under the same management structure as the server team, as the application or database administrators. This means that you’re dealing with the chief information officers (CIOs), but in the Middle East we quite often don’t even have CIOs,” comments Peck. According to Scholtz, the best way to minimise the departmental squabbles, problems and integration challenges of enterprise management solutions is to have clear targets from the inception of the project. Not only should these goals be defined to both IT employees and management teams, but they should be guided by business acumen rather than technology.“Enterprises need to look at the processes first and find out what post-management processes they want to implement, define them, and then look for the technology, which will help to automate those processes,” explains Scholtz.“Most organisations look for technology ‘silver bullets’ and then spend millions of dollars only to realise that the technology doesn’t do anything by itself,” he adds.Micromuse, a relatively new player to the regional enterprise management market, is also preaching business goals over technology with its ‘manager of managers’ NetCool solution. “We should see enterprise management as business not as technology,” says Kerry Koutsikos, regional manager, Micromuse, Middle East & Levant. “With NetCool — our umbrella solution — we tell people they should be concentrating on their business, not technology developments. Enterprises should not be spending time and money integrating applications, they should be concentrating on what makes them money.”||**||Pain factor|~||~||~|Vendors are advising end user organisations to tackle pain centres first with their enterprise management projects. According to the likes of CA and BMC Software, enterprises should begin addressing their management requirements in the area that is causing them the greatest amount of problems. “The message we are giving to senior management is ‘this is where you want to get to But we’ll start where you’re greatest pain is now.’ That’s where their vision needs to be,” says Peck.The pain factor approach also leads back to the idea of deploying solutions in manageable, modular chunks. “Although you try to sell the big picture, you start in small areas. The areas you start in are where customers are going to get the fastest return on investment,” adds Peck.For the vendors, ROI is the key selling point when it comes to their solutions. As such each of the main players in the enterprise management market claims to provide the fastest turnaround for their customer’s capital. CA is currently working on creating a UniCenter return-on-investment calculator, which would be available for customers to access and use on its web site. “We are working with IDC on a ROI calcualtor, which will enable any organisation to go to our web site, plug in their figures, and find out immediately what level of saving they can make in next three months, six months or one year if they implement UniCenter,” explains Riyaz.However, the vendors also claim that their ROI calculation and guarantees are intrinsically linked to the honesty of their customers.“BMC Software made a commitment two years ago, in terms of fastest ROI. But the ROI model relies on the costs of the enterprise and the enterprise being honest about their costs and the impact of those costs,” says Peck.Middle East enterprises seem to be recognising the benefits that enterprise management solutions can offer. Even though the local market is largely characterised by small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), according to the vendors the market is full of potential customers.“We are targeting the top 25% of companies, but not really targeting the low end, small companies,” says Micromuse’s Koutsikos. “There are a lot of conglomerates in the Middle East, probably 50 in the UAE alone, and Saudi Arabia has about 150. This is very good for us,” he adds. Moving down the scale, CA’s Riyaz says the vendor’s change in strategy was in part inspired by the possibility of attracting smaller enterprises that were previously deterred by large framework solutions.“The transformation from UniCenter TNG to UniCenter 3.0 was specifically made with the SMB market in mind. There was a perception that Unicenter and other framework products took three-to-five years to implement with ROI coming in after three years,” comments Riyaz.“In this region we have some very small entities that are using components of UniCenter and they are up and running in two days time,” he adds.BMC’s Peck also agrees that the SMB market can benefit from enterprise management solutions, often witnessing faster ROI and smoother implementations. But he also argues that the costs of selling and deploying a management solution to SMBs can pose a challenge to a vendor’s delivery model.“In some ways there is a faster ROI for some of the SMBs. But the difficulty is how we service these smaller organisations. Sometimes it can cost more selling to a small organisation than to a big one, but the potential return from a big organisation because they have a lot more servers and a larger network are a lot greater,” he explains.According to both vendors and analysts, the benefits of enterprise management solutions are clear. As businesses increasingly move online, enterprises need to have the 24x7 system uptime and availability that management solutions provide. “Organisations are looking at reducing the downtime of all components whether it’s the network, the servers or the applications because they are moving more and more to a 24 hour business. In addition, if you don’t have the tools in place to ensure that your response to your customers is good then you are going to lose your competitive edge,” states Peck.||**||Service level agreements|~||~||~|As Middle East enterprises begin to awaken to the benefits of enterprise management solutions, they are also beginning to investigate the possibilities of implementing service level agreements (SLAs). Although, much of the of the talk about SLAs in the region, remains just that — talk, the emergence of entities such as Dubai Internet City (DIC) and Dubai Media City have placed an increasing emphasis on the necessity of for such agreements. “Most of the IT managers [in the Middle East] are talking about SLAs. The term is becoming very popular but what is lacking is an understanding of what it takes to create, measure and sign a SLA,” comments Anas Jwaied, regional sales manager, software sales organisation, HP, Middle East & North Africa. “Enterprises are beginning to look at Quality of Service (QoS), and people are talking about service driven IT organisations and of course SLAs are the legal measure and contract between the service provider and the end user/customer,” he explains.DIC is in the process of creating SLAs for its tenants, and HP’s OpenView platform will provide the technical cornerstone when the SLAs are finally put in place.“OpenView helps in SLA management, monitoring and reporting,” says Faisal Aljundi, network performance team leader, technology department, DIC. “We will be ready technically for SLA contracts this year — but it still needs a lot of work,” he adds.Vendors are quick to claim that deploying enterprise management solutions enables enterprises to develop SLAs that align and stipulate business and IT practises. But SLA efforts within the region are not yet this advanced, and remain restricted to the IT side of enterprises. “Companies are beginning to see the need to put SLAs in place with the IT team, which are business related as opposed to technology related. But we are a little bit away from that in the Middle East. We are getting to the technology SLAs,” says Tim Peck, regional manager, BMC Software.However, as outsourced and managed services begin to gather momentum in the Middle East, and enterprises move increasingly to online, 24x7 e-business models, SLAs will also evolve from simply regulating internal procedures and IT services. “Service level agreements are starting to move outside of the organisation. Initially, the IT manager or chief information officer (CIO) was responsible just to his internal management and if something went wrong, he was answerable only to the company,” explains Abdul Karim Riyaz, marketing manager, Computer Associates Middle East. “But with e-business increasing, companies are looking to partner with other enterprises that can guarantee reliable 24x7 service. And this means SLAs are moving out of the enterprise,” he adds.||**||

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Read next