Things sure have changed. In fact, I think I saw Marshall's shirt being auctioned off on eBay the other day. Seems like forever since I've heard the sexy sizzle of network management. These days, vendors and users approach management the same way they approach their morning oatmeal--they know it's good for them so they force themselves to eat it, but they don't devour it the way they do wireless, security and storage projects.
The subject of management's missing sex appeal came up at our recent Editorial Advisory Board meeting. (No, I'm not the one who brought it up, though any talk of network management makes me feel like tearing off my shirt, leaping onstage and leading the crowd in a cheer.) Management of network, systems and applications is still an ongoing concern in just about every IT shop, our reader council told us. It's difficult and expensive to test, implement and operate management systems, and it's no secret that the management frameworks of the mid-1990s were a dismal failure. Yet nobody seems to be doing anything about it. Large, strategic management initiatives have long since left the building.
When the readers on our advisory board--IT professionals we've come to know and respect--raised the issue of management complexity and frustration, we weren't surprised. Watching management initiatives take shape isn't exactly a turn-on. It's taken deliberate, methodical plodding by the DMTF and IETF to get CIM, DEN, SNMPconf and other management standards to the point of certification.
But where are the products? Where's the automation that lets us manage more complicated systems and deliver more services more quickly? All we get is monitoring applications that gather SNMP data and track usage trends and threshold alerts. Helpful? Yes. Earth-shattering? No. Not one management application gets to the heart of the complexity of heterogeneous networks.