Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Configuration Management and Datacenter Automation Status

I have been evaluating the following vendor solutions for the past 3 weeks. We have all 4 of them installed in a small test environment consisting of varying windows systems and technologies running on the systems. We are focusing on current pain points in configuration management, and we are also evaluating technology which we will need in the medium term as well. I am going to review how they are stacking up, as I fill out the matrix of which products are supporting the requirements.


· Monitor and track configuration/policy

o Create policy off Live including patches and settings

o Track compliance to the policy

o Enforce the policy

o Track changes made outside the product

o Prevent the execution of a specific exe or file

· Architecture

o Ability to have proxies in datacenters/envs

o Ability to have decentralized control over envs

o Ability to use a single uni-directional port


o Visualize relationships between servers

o Visualize relationships between server and network

o Track dependencies of servers and websites

o Configuration Management Interoperability

· Manage users and services

o Manage local users across servers

o Replicate credentials to other servers

o Manage services in real-time

o Verify status of services in real-time across servers

o Verify services port usage

· Usability

o How easy is the product to administrate

o How easy is the product to use

o How easy is the product to configure and setup

· Software asset collection

o Collect software revision and install details

o Collect how often and for how long software is used

· Hardware asset collection

o Collect data via DMI or Standard Protocol

o Collect detailed information

· Reporting capability

o Export to PDF,XLS

o Report on compliance, changes, and activity

o Open database with views that make it easy to query

· Software Deployment

o Support for MSI, RPM, and Sun Packages

o GUI for creating Packages

o Search and replace

o Reverse engineer files into packages

o Rollback

o Notifications via SNMP and SMTP

o Download patches, deploy, and rollback patches

o Create a policy of patches

· PXE deployment

o Provision OS and policy in one job

The products we are reviewing are (in order of the installs):

CA – DSM, Cendura, and CMDB – The CMDB is the glue between the other components. The suite is very well done, and does a good job in general. There is not as granular policy control as some of the others. There is also not a good package of supported configurations in the DSM product. So far I would rank them 2nd or 3rd place. We still have more evaluation work to do on the products.

Bladelogic – Operations Manager – The product is excellent and extensible easily. The downsides are complex security model, and the UI is not great. They don’t have a solid CMDB strategy. I would rank this product in 1st place so far. We still have work to do here as well.

Opsware – SAS, VAM – This product does an excellent job in the CMDB and visualization. The system is scalable and capable as well. The downsides are the complexity of deployment, some instability, and some growing pains as they re architect some of the way the product operates. It doesn’t have as good of a unified shell that Blade has. This product shares the same spots with CA. We still have more evaluations to complete with the product.

HP – Radia – Lets put it this way…. After 2 days, the product hardly ran, and was not usable. I would be working with them today if I hadn’t given up and asked them to stop the POC.


JC Martin said...

Very interesting analysis. Just wondering, any reason why you did not integrate BMC in that mix ? Between the discovery capabilities, the Atrium CMDB and the Marimba products, it seems that you would get comparable functions (if not superior ;-). Feel free to contact me.


jkowall said...

Marimba technology is quite dated, and hasn't been updated well. I feel that BMC is also not a strategic vendor for my company. I have seen Atrium and its an excellent product. I am more focused towards fixing the items listed with a single product. The CMDB can easily be added on later. Most of the products have the idea of a CMDB in them.