Game-Changing Demands on Network Management Require a Secure, Integrated, and Automated Portfolio Response
Game-Changing Demands on Network Management Requirea Secure, Integrated, and Automated Portfolio ResponseTranscript of a sponsored podcast on the increasing demands placed on IT network managersand the tools available to help them.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor:HPDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and youre listening to BrieﬁngsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on raising the bar for network performance management. The IT news headlines are full of incidents of major cloud instances brought down for days, and unfortunately often weeks, with some of the largest of these due to network issues in association with virtualization and storage sprawl. The price in the cloud era for such disruptions is very high and very public.A big part of the solution to preventing such outages comes from comprehensive, automated, andincreasingly integrated network management capabilities. The tasks before network managershave never been more daunting. There are far more devices, hybrid networks, hybrid computeresources, higher levels of virtualization, and there is a need to maintain security and compliancerequirements throughout.What’s more, the pressure to keep cost down and to seek lower cost alternatives for convergedinfrastructure remains a constant companion to business and IT architects, and therefore anongoing network challenge.Into this environment, HP has recently delivered a wide ranging update to its NetworkManagement Center suite Version 9.1. The emphasis is on a comprehensive lifecycle approach tonetwork management with deep data gathering, automated root cause analytics, and intelligentand proactive response features that enable consistently high performance and networkreliability.Im here with an HP Network Management Center expert to dig into the new offerings and tobetter understand why previous fragmented approaches to network performance and stability justwon’t hold up for most enterprises. Please join me now in welcoming Ashish Kuthiala. He isDirector of Product Marketing for HP Software’s Network Management Center. Welcome,Ashish.Ashish Kuthiala: Hi, Dana. Glad to be on this call.
Gardner: This overarching network importance seems to be growing more and more. Werehearing about issues with virtualization and issues with multiple devices. The load on thenetwork is increasing, and the complexity is increasing. Maybe you could help me understandwhat it is about the new environment that is taxing the older ways of accomplishing a networkmanagement function?Kuthiala: Let’s start with a simple example of a business outage, whether that is your shoppingcart, through which you do your business transactions, going down or you come into the ofﬁceon a Monday morning and your email is really slow or not syncing up to the main server.When you have a business outage, the blame is put on the IT organization. Then, within the ITorganization, youre not sure whether it’s an application issue or it’s a backend database issue. Isit the server that’s not responding or is it the network? When youre not sure, you know theanswer ﬁrst and foremost is that it must be the network. The network is the backbone of any ITorganization today.Very complexIt’s always the ﬁrst thing to be blamed and the most complex things to diagnose and solve. When youre looking at the network today, it has become very complex and is increasingly becoming more complex. With new domains coming in, such as voice over IP (VOIP), webcasts, and video trafﬁc, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services, uniﬁed communications, and cloud computing and virtualization, it just becomes a nightmare to manage your network for your business. Then, you look at the volume of network devices coming online. Now, everyone wants to be in the instant-on enterprise mode. Everyone has to be connected. Everything has to be connected. Everyone expects immediategratiﬁcation and instant results. You have to respond to this opportunity continuously, and "anytime, anywhere, any way" is the new tagline for anybody who is working.Let’s look at the job of the director of network ops in a particular IT organization. Not only doeshe have to conﬁgure, manage, and standardize a network, he has to provision, he has to deliver,and he has to report on it. He has to do it very proactively and he has to do it very strategically atthe lowest cost possible.IT budgets are shrinking or remaining ﬂat, whereas the demands on IT are really going up. It’sestimated that a customer can lose about $70,000 a minute during network outage, as Im sureyou’ve seen in the recent news. Its a big business inhibitor if the network goes down. It is whatprovides the experience to the end user for all the IT services that they experience.Gardner: What about the old ways? Why isn’t the previous mode of network management ableto keep up?
Kuthiala: Today, if you were to look into a customer’s IT department managing a networkenvironment, you would often see a war-room like approach to managing networks. They havemultiple tools, legacy approaches, and a lot of band-aids. The inability in tying together whatused to be separate domains has become unacceptable.The inability to cope up with the scale and complexity, the different teams hunched over theirdifferent monitors, is what I call the "swiveling chair syndrome." If there is a network outage,you have these 8 or 10 different operators looking at different aspects of the network. They arejust swiveling in their chairs, talking to each other and looking for data that should really be onone screen for them to manage. The lack of scalability of such tools just adds to the problem.Gardner: So they are fragmented and reactive.Theyre not proactive. Is that right?Kuthiala: Theyre very reactive. If your shopping cart goes down doing the Christmas shoppingseason, and a customer tells you about it, that is just unacceptable. By that time, youve lostmoney, you have damaged your brand, and you have a number of IT people being woken up intheir homes at night to resolve this problem -- and you don’t know when this will get resolved.Gardner: Why is it that an automated approach can work? Now, you have a suite of products.You recognize that you need different tools for different parts of the equation of the problem. Iguess it’s abstracting that up to a console or a single view that is a powerful approach here. Isthat what’s going on?Built-in intelligenceKuthiala: To manage your network today, you really need to understand how your network is constructed from the bottom up, how it ties together, how it changes over time, and how it self-organizes. You need to build that kind of intelligence into your root- cause analysis. The design of the tools has to be built ground up, based on these decisions. That’s how you need to construct the tools. That’s how they need to be integrated. For an operator, all these need to build upon each other.It has to be in the right context. It cannot be siloed. It is a nightmare to manage. The desirednirvana for a network team is to reduce the numerous point tools to manage various aspects ofnetwork management. It has to be proactive, not reactive.You have compliance management diagnostics and change issues that you need to take humanerror out of, and you need to automate that. You want to reduce the manual effort, the errors andincrease control over your environment. You want to reduce the mean time to repair networkoutages, and maintain cost optimization as your network grows.
Today for customers, “performance is the new fault." So just because a network device is up andrunning, and you can ping it, doesnt mean it is providing the quality of service it should to theend user. It’s really the performance that the network is being measured against.Gardner: So, it’s not so much a red light/green light effect. It’s really what is the level ofperformance, what are the tradeoffs, how can I remain secured and reliable, and then how can Imanage my cost? That’s a fairly a big equation.Kuthiala: Correct. It’s a pretty big equation. It’s all about efﬁciency, how you reduce yourerrors, and increase your speed through automation.Gardner: So, HP has looked at this problem. Youve been in the management business for quitesome time with a long legacy with Open View, but youve been building, buying, and partneringfor a wider and more comprehensive approach.Tell me a little bit about the philosophy. I guess there are three aspects to management and a wayin which you can broaden your capabilities, but at the same time give a singular view of what’sgoing on.Kuthiala: So, Just to recap, customers are looking for a solution thats efﬁcient, automated, andsecure for them. When they manage a network, they should be able to do things like fault,performance, change, conﬁguration, compliance, trending and reporting, and this ties into theirbusiness services.Long historySo, HP looked at this problem. As you know, weve had a long history of about 20 years with theHP OpenView product in network management. As we acquired other companies such asOpsware, they bought in additional tools with them. We looked at the tools and the evolvinglandscape of the network management domain and about ﬁve years ago, embarked on a re-architecture plan for these products from the ground up.The approach wasn’t to make these products just work together by putting in connectors, but wewanted them to be integrated from bottom up, from the data level itself, where the data wouldbuild upon each other.Now, as we look at the Network Management Center (NMC), it is a complete portfolio ofsolutions and tools that lets you do network management in an integrated and automated way.This really builds upon the HP Network Node Manager i (NNMi), the related special plug-insthat handle complex services such as multicast trafﬁc, VOIP, etc., as well as the networkautomation piece of it which really helps customers automate and manage their change,compliance, and conﬁguration of network devices that they need to do on an ongoing basis.
Gardner: Ashish, as I recall, you had a pretty large update with this whole Network NodeManager family and a whole set of smart plug-ins. This was about a year ago, Level 9.0. Maybewe should revisit that, before we think about understanding more about 9.1.Kuthiala: The ﬁve-year journey of re-architecting our NMC portfolio completes with the 9.1release that we are talking about today.So, 9.0 introduced a number of features including better user interfaces, the ability to scale tolarge environments, and tying our products together into better functioning solutions. With 9.1,we are building on that.Weve strengthened the ability of our customers to manage cloud services. The most criticalcapability that a customer must have is to manage the network the same way that they havemanaged traditional networks, and it doesn’t matter if they have to go across the cloud or arelooking at private or public clouds.Gaining visibilityGaining visibility into the network elements, whether they are local, off-premise or the healthand quality of the cloud services thats being delivered, is the most important step. Can I reachmy device? Is it healthy? Is it performing to the expected levels of business needs?And, of course, conﬁguration compliance management of these devices across the cloud is veryimportant, and corrective actions and rollbacks are very important. Our tools are able to do thatacross different environments.The 9.1 release is also focused on the managed service provider’s (MSPs) market needs. There isa big trend of IT outsourcing to MSPs, and one of the things that customers want to outsource isnetwork management services. So this is a big, growing market, and our MSPs need platforms tomanage their customers network environments in a way that that maximizes their proﬁt.They need to scale and grow with their customer in expanding network environments, reducetheir hardware spend and their training costs, as well as grow their revenues and create new linesof business, as their own customers move to new and complex services.For example, a customer might go from traditional phones to IP telephones, and at that point, theMSP has to manage that aspect of their customer’s environment as well, and they don’t want atthis point to buy a new tool.The size of the customers network might increase, and you don’t want to buy another server,another set of tools and deploy another set of operators to manage that.We have introduced multi-tenancy capability and security groups that allow our customers toseparate their data and views into secure partitions. This helps them manage multiple customers,
departments or sites per single software instance, driving down their cost and giving them aﬂexible architecture.We’ve also done a lot of work on the performance-based, time-based thresholds for betteralerting. What this means is that the performance data is in the context of the network topologyproviding a unique point of your fault monitoring. It helps them with proactive notiﬁcation ofperformance degradation, ﬁx it proactively and guarantee service delivery levels.Weve also increased the number of months that the data is retained. Its up to 13 months nowwhich allows you to do forecasting and trending capabilities. This is a sufﬁcient data retentionperiod for compliance requirements for real-time and historical data, and allows a very efﬁcientanalysis.Our user interface (UI) has been enhanced based on the feedback we’ve gotten from customers.The common look and feel UI across all the products and our solution set ensures lower trainingcost -- train once, leverage across all these tools.Contextual informationThe UIs show relevant contextual information on the nodes and incidents theyre managing,giving them a lot of operational efﬁciency. The breadcrumb history and the easy navigation withright-click menus also allows the operators to get to the root cause more quickly, making themmuch more efﬁcient and improving the time to resolution.The analysis pane shows you a number of system component help enables you to get keyinformation including availability and performance graph really quickly.Gardner: In some of these high-proﬁle outages that weve had recently, it seems that they weredoing updates and that caused the cascading or spiraling effect and ultimately brought thenetwork down. For these MSPs their credibility is on the line, a lot of the money could be lost,and their service level agreements (SLAs) cant be met, and so forth.What is it about your suite and your comprehensive approach that could help amelioratesomething like that? Are you doing updates, constantly and in a dynamic, constantly changingenvironment? Tell me how this could be prevented in the future?Kuthiala: A network constantly needs updates, whether its conﬁguration updates or being incompliance with a number of different policies -- Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) or the Health InsurancePortability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and government regulations.Typically, customers have a set of people who use multiple tools or manually log into a numberof these devices and do these conﬁguration changes manually. This is very dangerous. One, thereis human error involved. Second, when something goes wrong, you dont know what has gone
wrong, and you are scrambling to ﬁx it. Think about doing this across 50,000, 60,000, 70,000devices in your network.Our network automation capabilities allow customers to automatically make these changesthrough our tools. As they implement these changes, its takes minutes and hours, versus days, tokeep these devices conﬁgured to the latest and greatest conﬁgurations and in compliance.Think about when you are on the 59,000th device that you are updating and you realize there isan error. This was not the right thing to do, and you need to roll back. If youre doing thismanually, youre spending many hours ﬁxing the error while your business is suffering duringthat time. Our automation capabilities help customers; with a few clicks of buttons they are ableto automate all of this.Today, customers might be looking at a number of incidents -- 10,000, to 15,000 incidents. Forexample, if somebody yanks a LAN cord out and puts it back in, what really has happened is theinterface has gone down and come back up. And now that is ﬂagged as an incident or an eventthat the operator has to pay attention to.With our root cause analysis engine, and the ability to map the topology dynamically in a spiraldiscovery fashion, the network topology is always up-to-date. The root cause analysis enginehelps ﬁgure out whether this is an incident that needs to be paid attention to or not, auto-resolving some of that.Meaningful incidentsThe incidents that boil up to the operators are meaningful, and therefore are reduced in numberto those that are actionable. We have had customers whose incidents have been reduced from10,000-12,000 down to 400, and only about 100 of those have to be acted upon and escalated tothe next level of management.Automation really takes a lot of the work out of your hands and enables you to ﬁx errors veryproactively, and if there is a mistake, ﬁx it right away with a few clicks.Gardner: Conﬁguration management is something we’ve heard about over the years and often ithas been applied to the servers and the application workloads. Are we talking about the sametype of conﬁguration management or do you need to do it in an entirely different way on thenetwork?And then second, your conﬁguration and your management center capabilities are part of thelarger business service management suite or set of products and services at HP, is there acommonality between conﬁguration management of the network and conﬁguration managementat some of the other major aspects of a converged infrastructure?Kuthiala: Im talking very speciﬁcally about the conﬁguration of network devices. The softwarethat your network device comes with is the key differentiator in how they act, and the
intelligence that they provide. So this has to be not only managed really well, but there arepatches and upgrades, just as you have software patches and upgrades on your servers. Thesehave to be managed. Sometimes, there are government regulations or company regulations thatyou want to propagate across these devices.But tying to the business service management set of tools or the suite stems from the fact that,when you look at it from a business service availability aspect, it’s not just about the network.There are servers, there are applications, and they are all tied together. For example, ifapplication business service is not working, do you know if it’s the server? Do you know if it’sthe application? Do you know if it is the network?Our Business Service Management offering ties in these aspects through our runtime servicemodel. This ties your network, to your application, to your server and is able to give yourbusiness a look into how your business service is going to be affected by the failure of any one ofthese infrastructure elements.Gardner: Okay. I have seen you referred to as "application-aware network management."Maybe you could help me better understand. What do you mean by that?Kuthiala: If you go back to the basic premise, the network is there to transit the trafﬁc forapplications themselves. Its essential to understand what type of trafﬁc is ﬂowing on yournetwork. This gives you the ability to optimize your network performance and networkresiliency.The true measure of how an application is running is what a user cares about. He doesn’t reallycare about how the network is running. Your network has to be very application-aware so thatyou can tune it to the desired performance and resiliency that you need.Gardner: Now, weve been talking about network performance management in the context ofsort of ﬁreﬁghting and preventing outages, but as I mentioned earlier, cost is such a still animportant element here.TCO beneﬁtsIn using your approach to network management, is there some efﬁciency or total cost ofownership (TCO) beneﬁts, when you have better insight into the network? When you can havethese root cause analysis data points available, when you have that comprehensive view, can youthen perhaps start tweaking and reﬁning the way in which your network operates in such a waythat sure youre going to keep availability and performance? Can you also ﬁnd ways ofdeveloping efﬁciencies and therefore cut total cost?Kuthiala: A customer that I met last year was on a prior version of our toolset and also had anumber of other vendors tools to manage his network.
We talked about the new NNMi platform, and customer’s response was, "You know, I have sevenor eight people dedicated to managing my network. I have a toolset that works and Im happy.And, I have a number of other IT projects that I need to attend to. I do understand the value ofgoing to the new platform, but I will do that next year."As we talked, I was able to articulate the value of how they could reduce the number of operatorsinvested in managing the network, the number of resources, the number of different contractsthey had, the server footprint, the cooling costs, etc. The customer agreed that it made a lot ofsense to upgrade.The customer came back to me in about three weeks and said, "The upgrade was easy, we got itup and running. I now have only two people managing my network. Ive been able to free sixpeople to put them on other critical IT projects. There has been a lot of savings for me and theability to redeploy my resources has been tremendous." So, I think a lot of customers of ours areactually realizing tremendous value from taking this new approach.The other case that I would like to share with you is about HP Enterprise Services. They werelooking to deploy 10,000 new remote workers, where people would be able to work from theirremote ofﬁces or homes. And, per worker that they would deploy, they would have to invest acouple of man hours on their end with somebody on the phone sitting and getting people toconﬁgure their new equipment to work with the corporate environment in a seamless fashion.By using automation tools, they were able to save about two hours per deployment per worker,as they rolled this program out and they deployed about 10,000 workers in a matter of few weeksversus months. They have had multiple successes with automation across their entire system anddeployed it across 350-plus clients to reduce their costs, increase their efﬁciencies and reduceerrors.Gardner: And these economic issues are very important to everyone, but I suppose they areeven especially important to those MSPs, where their margins are lower and their costs, whenthey cut them, can go directly to the bottom line.Kuthiala: Absolutely. It enables them to maximize their proﬁts. For example, the new multi-tenancy capabilities enable them to manage multiple customers from a single software instance.It helps them drive down their ongoing hardware, software, and headcount costs that they canredeploy somewhere else. The scalability of our products is immense. Were able to manage25,000 devices or up to two million interfaces from a single server instance..They can partition their customers in their own secure environments and use security groups. So,they can meet their customer SLAs but drive down their costs by going to a single instance of thesoftware.Gardner: Now Network Management Center is a fairly signiﬁcant set of different products, butmost people already have something in place. So this is not a matter of starting greenﬁeld. This isa matter of coexistence, migration, and transformation. How do you get started? What’s the
typical scenario for working with a Network Management Center set by bringing it into anenvironment where you’ve already got installed management?Automated capabilitiesKuthiala: Most customers today have in place something to monitor their networks, but a lot ofcustomers have not automated their conﬁguration, compliance, and diagnostic capabilities thatwe talked about.So, let me start with that. Weve seen a trend in our customer base where they buy smaller nodepacks to manage a small number of devices with our automation capabilities. Once they have putthat in place, they start to see other efﬁciency use cases that they can achieve using our networkautomation capabilities.We observe that these customers come back and buy more licenses for managing a greaternumber of network devices. So, that’s almost like a greenﬁeld opportunity here.But, when we look at the most customers looking at managing their networks and doingperformance and monitoring, for example, if they have an instance of our software, it’s an in-place upgrade. We offer a dual entitlement and run a parallel programthat allows customers is to seamlessly set up another parallel environment and bring the networkup there, start to manage it, and seamlessly shift.We’ve had an instance of a customer in the EMEA region, where they were testing our latestsoftware and running it in parallel to see how it was functionally different and what effect ofproductivity it would have on their operators. A couple of weeks went by and their seniormanagement started getting escalations for network problems.Now, when senior management turned to the network operations team and asked, "We have allthese incidents showing up. What is going on? Is something wrong?"Almost sheepishly, the network operator team had to acknowledge that they were testing the newplatform and had completely forgotten about the old tool which they needed to shut downbecause the new platform ignored the incidents that were not meaningful. They had“accidentally” migrated to the new platform to managing the network much more efﬁciently.A lot of our customers use this approach to migrate to the new platform, and of course, ourapproach is modular. Start with the core product and add the special plug-ins to manage your IPtelephony MPLS or multicast capabilities.Gardner: Okay, for those folks, thinking about evaluating these entry points and looking at thewider beneﬁts of an automated managed approach to conﬁguration on the networks, do you haveany landing pages, vanity pages, whitepapers? Where can people go for more detail and moreinformation?
Kuthiala: We have an hp.com page, which is www.hp.com/go/nmc for downloading trialsoftware, reading whitepapers, customer case studies, product capabilities and features. That’s agood starting point.We also blog about customer experiences and the stories they share with us as well.To see the HP Automated Network Management (ANM) Solution in action, you can watch ashort overview and the ANM 9.10 Video Demo. This recording will explain the NMCcomponents that make up the ANM solution and walk you through a use case to demonstrate theautomated capabilities of HP Automated Network Management 9.10.Gardner: You’ve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on raising the bar for networkperformance management and learning more details about HP’s new Network ManagementCenter 9.1 release. I’d like to thank our guest. We’ve been here with Ashish Kuthiala. He is theDirector of Product Marketing for HP Software’s Network Management Center. Thank you,Ashish.Kuthiala: Thank you, Dana.Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening,and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor:HPTranscript of a sponsored podcast on the increasing demands placed on IT network managersand the tools available to help them. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rightsreserved.You may also be interested in: • Tag-Team of HP Workshops Provides Essential Path to IT Maturity Assessment and a Data Center Transformation • HPs Kevin Bury on How Cloud and SaaS Will Help Pave the Way to Increased Efﬁciency in IT Budgets for 2011 and Beyond • HP Premier Services Closes Gap Between Single Point of Accountability and Software Sprawl