Thursday, August 30, 2007

Appliance v. Software

Along my path as an IT god J I have found myself going back and forth on the appliance model:

Year 2000:
    Why would I want to buy an appliance, when it's the same software, and I can't choose the exact form factor or implementation of hardware?
Year 2003:
    I can just buy this box and plug it in and I have a solution. When I have a problem I just swap out the box and load a config file onto it.
Year 2005:
    If I use my own hardware I can use the same box for 5 things at once, thus allowing the box to do more with the same power and space consumption. Especially when I introduce virtualization.
Year 2007:
    I'm so sick of vendors blaming hardware, and having the battles between hardware and software vendors. The worst is when you have IBM, Microsoft, and vendor x all fighting. I also like the fact that I know my appliance will be in warranty, because it's a single renewal.

Not to mention some of these appliance makers that have been around for a while are starting to refresh hardware. That's a brilliant idea! I get new boxes with new features for a fraction of the cost of the older box!

Appliance is my vote now!

Open Source Downsides

Open source is awesome, weather you need a swiss army knife, or some glue between two solutions that don't quite mesh the way you need them. It's also great for analysis and basic tasks that you need at your fingertips. Its versatile and deep in functionality. The best part, is the cost (aside from the legal ramifications of using it commercially). The downside is that working in a large complex environment where I have responsibility across so much diversity and complexity is that many of my needs are not fulfilled to warrant a platform selection:

  1. Manageability
    1. Policy
    2. Templates
    3. Audits
    4. Grouping
  2. Deployment
    1. Ssh
    2. telnet
    3. wmi
    4. remote command
  3. Scale
    1. Distributed systems globally
    2. Failover
  4. Reporting
    1. Complex reporting needs
    2. Logging sophistication

Most of these issues are completely missed in most open source tools, as it turns a swiss army knife into a nuclear weapon. There is nothing wrong with it, but either companies need to understand and implement these around open source tools (like groundworks is attempting to do slowly) or we need to stop using open source management and monitoring tools in large scale environments.

I really hope that these companies take a stand and do this, as it will help reduce cost, increase choice, and make a better more maintainable system for me to manage and implement. The flexibility is key, and open source is the king of flexibility.

Xangati Install and comments

Just got this new small startup's product/appliance installed today. It's an interesting concept. Take the technology developed in IDS and NBADS and implement a monitoring and profiling system designed to monitor for issues and network throughput stats. It's all netflow based, so it's a quick implementation. It's quite interesting, and we'll see how it runs over the next 8 weeks. Looking forward to working with them!