EMC's recent purchase of nLayers is a good fit for its SMARTS enterprise-management system. It fills the need for mapping application-infrastructure components to show which servers the applications depend on. And nLayers is unique because it monitors application traffic passively from the network rather than with agents on every server.
Application-mapping tools provide topology data to help IT determine the impact of service outages and changes. They can also help speed repairs by revealing how applications run in production. This is an arrow that has been missing from the EMC-SMARTS quiver, and is a weapon all enterprise-management vendors acknowledge needing.
NLayers is already being integrated into the SMARTS root-cause engine because nLayers and EMC entered into an OEM agreement in April. Once that integration is complete, IT shops running SMARTS should be better able to trust the results from its event correlation and impact assessment tools.
And EMC isn't the only one buying its way into application mapping. IBM and Symantec, top competitors in that market, acquired Collation and Relicore, respectively, within the past year to boost their own enterprise-management suites. BMC, another major vendor, developed its own application-mapping product.
In fact, somebody may want to call Hewlett-Packard before it gets left out in the cold. The company has yet to move toward an application-mapping solution, and now it has one less choice.