IT management today is more complex, CA hopes to simplify it: Page 2 of 2
By A. Asohan June 5, 2013
Breaking the DevOps duality
There has been a movement of late to bridge the gap between the development and operations sides of the IT department, called DevOps, which in turn is related to the ‘Agile’ movement as well, which seeks to speed up the delivery of IT services.
When asked if applying APM across the application lifecycle makes this a DevOps issue, Williamson (pic) agreed, but added that CA Technologies had been selling its product for years “before DevOps and Agile really got hot.”
But he acknowledged that the company had been selling it on a dual approach.
“Sometimes, we sell to the operations teams because these guys are expected to take an application they know nothing about, and they’re supposed to keep the lights on. So our product can open up and give them the visibility they lacked.
“It gives operations folk a fighting chance to keep an application up and running,” he added.
But it also sells to line-of-business or development teams, like those at a bank with its credit card or online banking application. These teams are responsible not only for developing and managing that application, but also the customer satisfaction around it.
“This latter buying pattern has been increasing a lot – more and more of customers’ budgets are residing with the line-of-business applications development teams,” said Williamson.
“And when you get into Agile environments, these applications change and roll out daily, weekly or monthly – and [these developers ] really need the assurance that when they roll these out in quick iterations, that they’ll perform well.
“These development cases are driving our business more and more,” he added. "It’s no longer an operations problem only; it’s a DevOps problem.”
Infra and capacity management
Williamson also touted CA Technologies’ Infrastructure Management suite, which manages networks, servers, databases and virtual systems.
“What we’ve done is create a unique linkage between the applications and the infrastructure upon which they run,” he said.
“It’s one thing to know whether your server is up or down; it’s another to know whether that server outage is killing your login transactions or your look-up address,” he said, adding that the company’s ‘unique linkage’ allows customers to “look in and solve the most important problem first.”
Another area that CA Technologies aims to tackle is the over-provisioning of IT resources, which in today’s world of reduced budgets is a veritable sin.
“You wouldn’t believe how woefully inefficient IT is in general, because everything is bought in a different time and place and is layered on top of each other,” said Miles.
“We end up with these incredibly extravagant infrastructures that are woefully overblown,” he said, adding that CA Technologies Capacity Manager solution can “frankly take off so much cost and reclaim so many IT assets.”
“Companies are going to need to look at it,” Miles said, but added that it was not just a matter of cutting cost, which he admitted was a major driver, but also running the infrastructure more optimally.
His colleague Williamson described the typical scene when a large application, such as an SAP application, has to be rolled out in an organisation.
“Typically, you will have no clue of how much hardware or virtual system resources you will need to have to support that application, so what customers do is they buy three or four times the hardware they really need ,” he said. “That’s an expensive problem.”
“CA Capacity Manager can take feeds from both the APM and Infrastructure Management products and project how many servers or virtual machines you’re going to need,” he added.” If you do it right, you can save boatloads of money by not over-provisioning your systems.”
In fact, Williamson touts this as CA Technologies’ unique differentiator. “We have the underlying application performance and infrastructure management layers to feed our predictive analysis and capacity management products, so that customers can make better use of their systems.”
Cloud services providers also argue that they can help customers avoid over-provisioning with their pay-as-you-use model and cloud-bursting features, the latter allowing extra capacity to be doled out as and when needed only.
When asked if the proliferation of the cloud was a threat to CA Technologies’ business in this regard, both executives disagreed.
“While it is true that an increasing amount of hardware capacity is going out to the cloud, there is still a lot of hardware on-premise out there,” said Williamson, “Plus, this is something that even the cloud providers can use.”
Miles also noted that because of security or regulatory requirements, not many enterprise customers go for a pure cloud environment, with most preferring a hybrid of on-premise and cloud applications in their IT. Many customers also prefer their business-critical applications remain in-house.
Looking under the hood
Finally, on top of CA Technologies’ Application Performance Management and Infrastructure Management, it offers ‘service views,
“Your online banking application may be a service, under which you have this application logic, business transaction and the infrastructure,” said Williamson.
“Service views roll them all up and help IT operations manage these as a service – you’re no longer just managing application servers or the networking, you’re managing the online banking service as a whole.
“We give you a view of all the underlying infrastructure so that even a Level 1 type admin can have a look and understand what’s going on,” he added.
This gives the business a view across all the silos that together make up the service.
There are often organisational or company culture barriers, but endusers are driving many companies to adopt this approach. “Customers more and more want to run their applications this way,” said Williamson.
As businesses become more applications-centric, CA Technologies is continuing to invest in this area. In 2011, it made a US$330-million acquisition of ITKO Inc, which specialised in virtualising the elements of a service.
To explain the ‘elements of a service,’ Williamson said that a typical application may have a mainframe behind it, while using a messaging service and for fulfilment, perhaps even a FedEx type third-party web service.
“These are expensive and time-consuming to set up, and you probably only want to do it once – but you have to do it many times,” he said, referring to the different stages of an application development lifecycle.
“ITKO’s LISA product suite can pretend to be that mainframe, that messaging service, that web service – so that during the development and testing phase, you don’t have to set it all up,” he said. “It’s like a fake town.”
Such a product is not unique, but “early technologies in this area tended to be very static, and didn’t take into account the very fast-changing environments we have today,” said Miles (pic).
“Historically, one of the shortcomings of a system like LISA is that it’s only as good as its ‘laboratory environment’,” Williamson concurred.
Now however, with APM’s ability to know about what the real-life service looks like, CA Technologies has integrated it with LISA so that the latter is as “real-world as possible,” he said.
“So now we can speed up development time, and it’s not just about management,” he added. “It’s a new area for CA that’s really resonating with customers."
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