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9/29/2009
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More SaaS IT Service Management Options

AccelOps' latest software release adds new features for network and data center service management, both for premises and SaaS deployments.

AccelOps' latest software release adds new features for network and data center service management, both for premises and SaaS deployments.Startup AccelOps today announced version 1.5 of its eponymous product, which is available both as a virtual appliance and as an online service.

AccelOps provides IT service management by monitoring and reporting on critical IT systems and the data center. The 1.5 release now monitors performance indicators for virtual machines and tracks the relationship between physical hosts and VMs.

Also new is enhanced statistical profiling of user and service accounts. By profiling user behavior around account access, AccelOps aims to help administrators spot unusual behavior, which may indicate potential security or policy violations. In additon, a trouble ticketing system to help administrators track and manage incidents and assign tasks.

The virtual appliance and the SaaS version include a CMDB and discovery module. The module pulls information from data sources such as network devices, servers, databases and applications to populate the CMDB. Instead of agents, the module is deployed on the customer premises (in both the virtual appliance and SaaS offering) and uses SNMP, syslog, WMI and other methods to pull configuration information into the CMDB. In the virtual appliance model, the customer provides and manages the database and storage for the CMDB. In the SaaS model, all configuration information is sent to AccelOps' data center for analysis and storage.

The goal of service management is to help IT understand how individual hardware and software components interact in the context of an overall service, such as e-mail or firewalling. By understanding the dependencies among components of a service, IT can do several things: properly allocate resources around components that make up critical business systems, understand how changes to or outages of one or more components may affect a service, and respond appropriately when components go down.

AccelOps includes an analytics engine that analyzes configuration information in the CDMB. When the CMDB is populated, administrators can set up services to monitor. Once the services and components are defined, you can set up alerts around performance, monitoring and change management, and set service levels both for the overall service and for components within it.

TO SAAS OR NOT AccelOps says it sees a 60/40 split among customers for its virtual appliance and SaaS options. The company initially expected that only 20 percent would go with the service. The higher adoption may reflect a growing confidence among IT professionals to let critical information reside outside the walls of the organization.

Other vendors are also taking the SaaS route. Service-now is an SaaS-based ITSM provider that aims at large companies. (AccelOps is targeting the middle tier, which it defines as companies doing $35 million to a little over a billion dollars per year, or 350 to 5,000 employees).

Paglo is also putting IT management online, though the company doesn't position itself as a service management or ITIL-focused vendor.

Other vendors in this area include ITILogix. A company called InteQ offers a SaaS-based IT service desk.

Of course, companies must tread carefully when considering a SaaS provider. Security and privacy concerns top the list, so organizations must do their homework when evaluating whether the provider can do as good as (or better) job of protecting critical information.

AccelOps declined to state its hosting provider, but the company says the hosting provider is SAS 70 Type II certified. Potential customers should ask for copies of the SAS audit, and find out if either AccelOps or the hosting provider performs other security checks, such as third-party penetration testing and vulnerability management. Potential customers should also get detailed information on both AccelOps and the hosting provider's physical and logical access controls.

Availability concerns follow closely on the heels of security. If your IT management provider goes offline, will admins be left in the dark as they try to run the network? Getting the details of SLAs right is critical.

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