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Software // Enterprise Applications
04:14 PM

Unlock Systems' Potential

Software lets businesses tame their unruly systems and networks

Ever since businesses began installing computer systems and networks, managing that technology has been difficult and costly. IT departments spend billions of dollars each year on management products, but every year business-technology managers continue to say that systems and network management is a big challenge.

Big companies with deep pockets can deploy the large and expensive management frameworks offered by major vendors such as Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM's Tivoli. They promise to monitor and manage just about every piece of equipment. But for many businesses, these frameworks aren't an option. Instead, they look for individual products from smaller vendors that manage and automate specific tasks and help businesses save time, money, and resources.

It's a large and growing market. Businesses worldwide spent about $7 billion on systems-management software last year, according to market research firm IDC. That figure will grow to $9.7 billion in 2007, up 38% from last year, IDC says.

These products are growing in importance as more businesses seek to rationalize and consolidate their technology infrastructures so they can do more with fewer people and less money. Some products promise to automate and eliminate many of the tedious chores involved in running IT shops. Others offer businesses views of systems and perspectives on customers that were never available before.

Entuity's software took engineering company Fluor a week to set up, CIO Barnard says.
Fluor Corp., a $10 billion-a-year construction and engineering firm, is trying to reduce the cost of its technology infrastructure. In the long run, Fluor plans to outsource to IBM Global Services. But before it makes that move, the company is using software from Entuity Ltd. to better understand its infrastructure. After Entuity's software was in place for a week, "we identified server utilization, and then we could begin forming the plan with IBM," CIO Ray Barnard says.

Fluor had servers from just about every major hardware vendor, and it used a lot of them. Ultimately, the company plans to consolidate 1,400 servers, which are working at only 18% of capacity, down to 175.

Like many companies, Fluor bought and deployed servers on a per-project basis. Its global IT staff managed and maintained them, project by project. "We made sure we had servers on the ground," Barnard says. "But we could never measure the utilization." In addition, "when it was time to move into the Internet world, we didn't have a workable strategy because we didn't have a single view of the enterprise," he says.

Fluor used Entuity's software, which starts at $50,000 and increases based on the number of objects being managed, to get a handle on its infrastructure. Then it set up a single console using Tivoli SMS to gain a comprehensive view of its systems and networks around the world.

Tools such as Entuity's automate many of the time-consuming tasks that business-technology managers face, and more such tools are on the way, says technology analyst Richard Ptak of Ptak & Associates. "There is an enormous amount of work going on around server management," he says. "Vendors are providing reassignment of servers, reallocation of infrastructure based on workloads, and response to failures of servers in automated fashion." But it will take a while before software will let servers automatically respond to changes in the business based on policies or goals. "That's the goal," he says, "but it's five years away."

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