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12th Annual Well-Connected Awards: Network and Systems Management

Well Connected Awards 2006

Multitiered, modular applications that deliver business services are making the network and applications infrastructure that support them more complex. Managing this IT supply chain, or ISC, means keeping tabs on network switches, routers, WAN connections, load balancers, accelerators and firewalls. The ISC also includes the database back ends, Web front ends, applications and application servers. With Web services and the introduction of virtualization at the server, storage and operating system levels, the ISC resembles a bowl of spaghetti. It's a wonder anything works or is even remotely reliable.



Detailed service management is necessary for ISC to support SOA (service-oriented architecture). As Web services become a utility we consume, combine and make available to create other services, they, too, must be managed to support business service delivery. It is this level of services IT operations must isolate and measure. Services are becoming less tied to specific hardware, system, application and data center boundaries. This change demands accurate automated mapping.

App-dependency mapping products we tested automated the process of tracking interserver and service communications. The approaches varied from promiscuous packet monitoring on the network to application template matching. All the products documented hardware, OS and application relationships. But our Well-Connected Award winner, Symantec Relicore Clarity 4.1, took mapping a step further.

Relicore Clarity's approach to mapping is one of those less-is-more technologies. To watch all the communications between servers and services, Relicore monitors the system kernel I/O--seeing what services are communicating, without building application templates or maps, and getting up close and personal with specific builds of any OS. Getting an agent hooked into an OS can be very sensitive, politically. Can't you just hear the admin exclaim, "You're going to do what to my server? I'm not going to provide on-call support for that anymore." Make sure you involve your admins during evaluations. Technically, however, Relicore was stable and reliable without fault during our tests.

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