Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First Impressions of Interop

I landed in Vegas Monday afternoon (5/18) around 4:00. When I stepped out of the hotel I saw something that I have never seen before in Vegas – there was absolutely no line for a taxi. Every other time I have come to Vegas there has been a long line, often lasting a half hour or more. My fear was that the Interop show would be as empty as the taxi line. It is not. It appears to be down some from last year, but there still is a lot of energy here.

The first session I moderated on Tuesday morning was on Application Performance Management (APM). The panelists were from NetQoS, CA and Fluke. I find this to be a very important topic because I strongly believe that all that a company’s business managers really care about is the performance of a handful of applications that they use to run their business unit. All of the infrastructure components (e.g., LAN, WAN, SAN, servers, OSs, firewalls, WOCs – you get the idea) are just a means towards an end.

The attendance at the session was ok, but less than I expected for this topic. The three panelists did a good job of describing APM and their company’s approach. Paul Ellis of CA drove home the fact that CA believes that IT organizations need to focus on the transaction and the quality of the user’s experience with that transaction. Matt Sherrod of NetQoS and Doug Roberts of Fluke Networks both did an admirable job of creating a framework for how IT organizations should approach APM.

The bottom line is that I was quite pleased with all three presentations. Then we got to the Q&A and the gap between what is being promoted by vendors and analysts and what is being practiced by IT organizations became painfully clear. For example, vendors and analysts have been talking for years about what IT organizations need to do to meet their internal SLAs. When asked, hardly any of the participants stated that they offer internal SLAs. That did not surprise me. Even more interesting is that vendors and analysts have also been talking for years about the need for visibility into applications. When asked, relatively few of the participants stated that they had that kind of view even though most of them had some kind of APM tool. That did surprise me. The feedback from the participants was that the main reason they didn’t have that kind of visibility was the overall complexity of the IT environment. Given that I believe that things are only going to get more complex, the gap between theory and practice may well get larger over the next few years.

Jim Metzler

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