For the past decade, the holy grail of systems management has been the ability to aggregate and present a business view of systems operation, so someone from the business side can see how well their CRM or order-to-cash process is operating.
CITTEO, a tiny provider of systems monitoring tools, is claiming it can deliver such views in the newest release of WatchTower, its core product.
The company, which has over 100 customers, has barely 20 staff. A spin-off of AOL’s data center operation, the founders came from EDS, Time Warner, and Accenture.
But it also has an unspecified number of VARs and hosting partners that account for the bulk of installs among clients such as AOL and OEMs like Rackable.
The company is announcing version 2.5 of WatchTower, its core product. The highlight of the release is the ability for IT managers to build higher-level SLA dashboards reflecting business processes, not just the underlying infrastructure.
Version 2.5 is also adding a capability to ease troubleshooting. It can retrieve published content from Safari Books online, so a Cisco device outage could automatically retrieve appropriately tagged passages on troubleshooting and resolving the problem, from the online library. Safari covers content from O’Reilly, Cisco, Microsoft Press, and Addison Wesley.
And, as a Web 2.0-like application, it supports the ability to provide mashups with your own libraries, such as internal documentation on how your company is implementing the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Libraries, which focus on service management), or the ability to blog with book authors.
In effect, WatchTower is a Web 2.0 updating of traditional SNMP-based network monitoring systems like HP OpenView Network Node Manager, which practically invented the distributed network management market.
Instead of stationing agents on SNMP networks node, it pings anything with an IP address. Using its own signature database, it usually identifies the signature of the device after about eight or 10 pings to decipher, not only the hardware, software, or firmware, but also the version. That works well on relatively newer infrastructure, such as Windows or Linux farms with IP switches.
And it works with higher-level applications, such as SAP or Oracle. That in turn is key to providing those higher-level views that could show the service level of a customer fulfillment process in an ERP system.
Besides coming with an out of the box device configuration database, it can also accept custom definitions or new definitions sent thought the open source community. And it can tie in with industrial strength help desks form HP, CA, or BMC by publishing its dashboards as a web service.
In most engagements, WatchTower is monitoring midsize installations numbering 500 to 1000 nodes, although they report that some customers monitor as few as 10 nodes.
There’s an assumption that if you have less than 1000 nodes you only need lightweight monitoring. That’s wrong. They may still be doing sophisticated things, said Jamie Lerner, CEO and founder.