With the $7 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems now completed, Oracle has to watch over more than 13,000 network devices and services--everything from access switches, core network routers, wide-area-network (WAN) routers, firewalls, load balancers and more--and it takes a comprehensive network management system. But what used to be an unwieldy patchwork of various network monitoring and management tools, some purchased, some open-source and some home-grown, has been whittled down to one: an IT management system from Monolith Software.
"We had numerous tools," says Craig Yappert, Oracle's senior director of Enterprise Monitoring Solutions. "We couldn't sustain that model." What Oracle wanted, and began looking for more than a year ago, was technology that would let the vendor compress and consolidate the various products and solutions it was using to monitor its vast corporate network, which stretches across continents, support its more than 85,000 employees, and is used not only to support Oracle's business applications but also customer service solutions, collaboration suites and even product development. The network also supports millions of customers that use Oracle on Demand, an outsourcing solution that provides companies with hosted Oracle applications such as customer relationship management (CRM).
The right technology would have to scale to the size and scope that Oracle was to become (at the time it was just beginning the process of buying out Sun) and beyond. "The challenge was not so much the feature and functionality of a solution, although that certainly is important. It was scaleability and adaptability," Yappert says. "It needed to allow us to consolidate all the tools we had, it needed to scale to the size and scope of Oracle today and in the next few years, and it needed to allow us to get at the data and repurpose the information the way we needed to."
On that last point, Yappert says Oracle wanted to be able to turn the network monitoring and management data such a system collects and present it to the Oracle end users as useful information about the network's performance. Oracle found Monolith Software almost by accident. It was reviewing different vendors' network management solutions and only considering using a product from Monolith Software for syslog management. But after meeting with the company, which was founded in 2005 by Jeff Parker and Shawn Ennis, Oracle realized that Monolith Software had much more than syslog management.
Monolith Software was started specifically to help organizations rein in their network monitoring tools with a modular, Web-based solution set, and Parker and Ennis drew on their years of experience as consultants helping organizations monitor networks. "When companies bought software for the network operations center, traditionally they had to by from several different providers, and then hire a consultant to put it all together and train the staff," Parker says. Consultants would "take all the piece parts and crudely stitch them together, but to maintain that Frankenstein, they needed a lot of manpower. So we built our own software from the ground up to address these key issues."