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Rollout: Monolith Takes On BSM Establishment

THE UPSHOT
CLAIM: Monolith Software's mSuite ITM Core 3.2 network management software sports a consistent, open architecture and functional design. Monolith says its offering is highly scalable, is easy to use and maintain, and costs a fraction of what larger software vendors charge for rival BSM systems.
CONTEXT:Few new vendors are developing software from the ground up to meet the network management requirements of large organizations, instead ceding the field to HP's OpenView, IBM Tivoli's Netcool, CA's Spectrum, and EMC's Smarts, the dominant players for large shops where scale, redundancy, and customization are key for BSM. Zenoss, like Monolith, is working to develop scalable network management platforms based on open source that could meet the customization needs of enterprises.
CREDIBILITY: Many of mSuite's features, especially its dashboard, will impress IT operations groups. However, the company has significant work ahead of it: mSuite lacks the ability to create a network topology and automatic service-based root-cause analysis, and while less cumbersome than the Big Four vendors, the deployment and customization process is not without complexity. In addition, the documentation lacks polish.

Monolith Software is an upstart in a business service management, or BSM, market dominated by BMC, CA, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. A glut of acquisitions has helped the Big Four cobble together costly BSM behemoths that are usually bears to implement and maintain. By contrast, Monolith built mSuite ITM Core 3.2 from the ground up to enable BSM-like capabilities using a single architecture. Best of all, a typical installation costs $80,000--often less than the annual maintenance fee for a traditional suite.

We tested mSuite, which is based on the open source LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) architecture, in our Real-World Labs and found it a good value and, for some shops, a reasonable alternative to traditional network management products like OpenView.

However, mSuite lacks a few key modules that include service-based root-cause analysis and network topology. In addition, organizations that need user and admin documentation must rely on a sparse online wiki, and most will require installation and configuration help.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

BSM is all about showing how IT operations affect the business. The goal is to reduce downtime of critical services, such as e-mail or customer-facing apps, by grouping all relevant physical devices and software into logical units based on business function. BSM encourages us to break away from managing assets using traditional IT categories, such as Windows servers and Oracle databases. In theory, BSM-oriented operations groups can more quickly understand why a service is down and resolve the problem faster.

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