Vital IT management technologies for 2010

As more companies expand virtualisation deployments and consider cloud computing, the average IT environment will grow ever more complex. For enterprise IT managers in 2010, that means they must update the technologies they use to monitor, manage and optimise the environment.

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Some of the biggest challenges facing IT organisations in 2010 are more cultural than technical. From breaking the trend of working in domains, or silos, and aligning IT services better with business needs, IT departments face many formidable tasks in 2010. Virtualisation and cloud computing, for instance, require actions be taken across IT domains and will push IT organisations to break down such barriers to new technologies.

"A big limitation today in achieving the true value of some of the latest tools is IT organisation, especially in enterprises. Enterprises work in silos, not only between different domain areas (for instance, network, application, server, desktop and storage) but also within domain areas such as Linux server management, mainframe management, Windows management and virtualisation management," says David Williams, research vice president at Gartner. "This situation is understood and is slowly starting to be addressed with new roles and cross-domain teams being established. In 2010, IT organisations will continue to visit how they are organised to allow IT operations to become more service-centric and business-aligned."

Analysts say if the cultural hurdles can be cleared, a handful of tools will make adopting advanced technologies in 2010 easier for the majority of IT departments. Here is a brief look at five technologies industry watchers say could become mandatory for optimised IT service delivery and advanced data centre operations in the coming year.

No. 1: IT service assurance Managing the performance of IT service delivery involves myriad technologies reporting on various perspectives, including the user experience with an application.

That means IT departments need to be able to get visibility into network traffic flows as well as application performance across multiple components supporting IT services. From advanced discovery technology to traffic flow analysis to transaction monitoring, IT departments need to see the entire path of a service -- even as it exists in the corporate network and travels through external cloud environments, for instance.

The premise of IT service assurance isn't entirely new and until recently was more commonly a concern for service providers, but enterprise IT organisations have started to evolve into service providers in their own right. Companies such as BMC, CA, HP, IBM and now EMC are touting the ability to provide insight into the life cycle of an IT service. The speed at which companies are adopting and expanding their use of virtualisation and the growing interest in internal and external cloud computing environments heightens the need for such technology in 2010. "One need is to have a true end-to-end picture, which means having comprehensive visibility and control into the quality of experiences for the end user and the quality of service," says Evelyn Hubbert, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "This means we need to see how traffic flows across the network, systems, applications and databases, which all are participating in the services. IT organisations realise they need to manage the services rather than the infrastructure."

No. 2: Virtual systems management Vendors looking ahead to 2010 seemed to get quiet on virtual systems management in favour of touting cloud management capabilities, but industry watchers say that without support for heterogeneous virtual systems and advanced features covering performance and capacity management, there can be no cloud management.

"Virtualisation and automation technologies are directly related to the cloud. Virtual servers comprise the computing environment, and automation is responsible for the cloud being monitoring, management, secured and made compliant," says Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates. "Virtualisation is fundamentally mainstream now, and there is a lot of activity around virtual systems management. Niche players are expanding support beyond VMware and enabling their technology to cover more of the enterprise."

Virtual systems management in 2009 became mandatory for vendors and in 2010, enterprise IT organisations will be certain to equip their toolboxes with multi-hypervisor virtual system support. And while companies such as VKernel, Surgient, Fortisphere, ManageIQ, Embotics and Veeam burst onto the scene with VMware management capabilities in the past few years, analysts say expect to see some of these innovative newcomers get acquired as the larger systems management players look to fill gaps in their product portfolios.

"Expect many acquisitions, especially in the virtualisation management space, in which smaller vendors are due for consolidation," says Mary Johnston Turner, research director at IDC.

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