N(I)2 FaQs (V4)

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N(I)2 FaQs (V4)

  1. 1. N(I)2 FAQ — TABLE OF CONTENTS N(i)2 FAQ — Table of Contents............................................................................................................1 1. Architecture.................................................................................................................................................3 Q. Which database does The N(i)2 Suite support?......................................................................................3 Q. Which platform does The N(i)2 Suite run on?.........................................................................................3 Q. What is the N(i)2 software licensing model? ..........................................................................................3 Q. Is there a web interface for the software?...............................................................................................3 Q. Can we access The N(i)2 Suite server through the internet and/or the intranet?....................................3 2. CMDB...........................................................................................................................................................4 Q. Does the CMDB include a user interface to manage Configuration Items (CIs)?...................................4 Q. What is the difference between the CMDB’s Configuration Management and the Inventory Management modules? ...............................................................................................................................4 Q. What is the scope of the items defined and described in the CMDB? ....................................................4 Q. Can any kind of non-IT equipment be included in the N(i)2 CMDB, including bar-code items? ............5 Q. Can I attach documents to a CI in the N(i)2 CMDB? If yes, what type of document?.............................5 Q. Can the N(i)2 CMDB Platform track CIs’ change history?.......................................................................5 Q. Is there a parent/child relation defined in the N(i)2 CMDB? ...................................................................5 Q. How is the N(i)2 CMDB populated?.........................................................................................................5 Q. How is the imported data synchronized? Is there any development required?.......................................6 Q. Does N(i)2 offer a report subsystem? Can existing reports systems be used or integrated?.................6 Q. Which interfaces does the N(i)2 CMDB currently support?.....................................................................6 Q. How does the N(i)2 CMDB compare with the one included in HP OpenView® Service Desk v5? ........6 1. CIs and Associations:...............................................................................................................................6 HP’s CMDB provides two types of associations, one for the hierarchy (vertical) and another for links (Horizontal). In the N(i)2 CMDB, predefined business associations are provided which include business rules..............................................................................................................................................................7 For example:................................................................................................................................................7 2. Queries and Reports:...............................................................................................................................7 Regardless of their category, HP’s CMDB reports are based on a single form of CIs. Reports basically act as filters from a list of CIs.............................................................................................................................7 On the other hand, the N(i)2 CMDB reports are based on a generic form and business specific forms of CIs and their relationships. Reports can be viewed as tabular, schematic, and location views. The N(i)2 CMDB reports can be highly generic according rules and filters (navigating and filtering CIs according to a business query). A set of pre-defined reports is also provided.................................................................7 3. Services:...................................................................................................................................................7 The N(i)2 CMDB platform provides a set of embedded capabilities such as:..............................................7 3. Queries & Reports......................................................................................................................................7 Q. Can users search for CIs based on attribute values or CI type? ............................................................7 Q. Are there any predefined reports for the CMDB? What type?.................................................................7 4. Request Management.................................................................................................................................8 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite include an order management function? ............................................................8 5. Discovery.....................................................................................................................................................8 Q. Is the discovery process based purely on IP connectivity? ...................................................................8 Q. The system can do application discovery on windows, but is there a corresponding function for UNIX? ......................................................................................................................................................................9 6. Incident Management.................................................................................................................................9 Q. While The N(i)2 Suite implements ITIL® processes such as Change Management or Incident Management, how are activities submitting changes? ...............................................................................9 © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /1 Last update: 11/6/2009
  2. 2. 7. Infrastructure Management......................................................................................................................10 Q. Is the network elements representation only available in N(i)2? .........................................................10 8. Change Management................................................................................................................................10 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite reconcile between various designs in the process of getting provisioned?.......10 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite do “Service Activation” after provisioning? ........................................................10 9. Usability.....................................................................................................................................................10 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite provide capabilities to display CIs in Tree-view where the hierarchy is supported? Or display schematic view where CIs associations are logically displayed?...........................10 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite provide any drag-and-drop capability?................................................................11 10. Administration.........................................................................................................................................11 Q. What kind of data import does N(i)2 Suite support?..............................................................................11 Q. What is the size of database?...............................................................................................................11 Q. Integration with GIS and OSS systems - what's available?...................................................................11 Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite support automated naming based on the definition of a naming convention?....11 Q. How difficult is the installation process for The N(i)2 Suite?..................................................................11 Q. Does the N(i)2 Suite allow the user to customize (or define) CI properties like adding user attributes, or modifying business rules?..........................................................................................................................12 11. API............................................................................................................................................................12 Q. Is the database organization/schema open —be seen or used by a 3rd party application directly? ..12 Q. How is the integration with, for example Netcool or Infovista, being carried out? ...............................12 Q. Is an integration possible with monitoring systems such as Micromuse® or HP OV TeMIP? .............13 Q. Is integration possible with SLA systems?............................................................................................13 12. 3rd Party Product Integration...............................................................................................................13 Q. Can the N(i)2 service desk component be replaced with HP Service Desk? Is there any integration between the two?.......................................................................................................................................13 Q. The N(i)2 strategy is to offer pre-integrated capabilities to other vendor products. Which 3rd party products are currently integrated? .............................................................................................................13 Q. Can the user switch from the network diagram view to the configuration interface of Cisco Works, or HP OpenView NNM?..................................................................................................................................13 © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /2 Last update: 11/6/2009
  3. 3. 1. ARCHITECTURE Q. Which database does The N(i)2 Suite support? In The N(i)2 Suite, there is a clear separation between the object model and the persistent storage. The N(i)2 Suite can potentially support any database. Currently, N(i)2 supports Oracle, Postgres but the CMDB object model can actually be mapped to any database like Oracle, Postgres, SQLServer, DB2 … Q. Which platform does The N(i)2 Suite run on? The N(i)2 Suite can run on any platform supporting the java virtual machine (JDK 1.5). These platforms include Windows 2000, Windows XP, UNIX, or Linux. Q. What is the N(i)2 software licensing model? The N(i)2 Suite is licensed based on the number of CPU used for the N(i)2 Server. There are no limitations per users—an unlimited amount of concurrent users can access the system based on the definition of their roles and rights.  The license is controlled against the N(i)2 Server’s MAC address and the customer expiration date for every module and for every catalog of The N(i)2 Suite.  When a user logs-in, the license manager checks The N(i)2 Server’s MAC address and the expiration dates (for every module or catalog). The license file is also analyzed to ensure it was not tampered with. Q. Is there a web interface for the software? Yes, there is a web interface for The N(i)2 Suite. This interface is currently only used by the N(i)2 Service Desk module. Forthcoming versions will provide additional capabilities and modules. Q. Can we access The N(i)2 Suite server through the internet and/or the intranet? The communication between the N(i)2 Dashboard (Java Rich Client) uses the Java RMI protocol – requiring a specific TCP/IP port in order to enable the communication between the N(i)2 server and the client application. It therefore requires an Intranet or Extranet (VPN channels on Internet) The communication between the N(i)2 Service Desk (HTML client) uses the HTTP protocol between the N(i)2 server and the web client. It can therefore work on an Intranet or on the Internet (HTTPS protocol is recommended) © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /3 Last update: 11/6/2009
  4. 4. 2. CMDB Q. Does the CMDB include a user interface to manage Configuration Items (CIs)? Yes, the CMDB platform includes a Configuration Management module that allows the user to manage any CI defined in the CMDB. This module includes the following functions:  Add item  Modify item  Clone item  Delete item  Associate/Dissociate items Q. What is the difference between the CMDB’s Configuration Management and the Inventory Management modules? (The Inventory Management module is offered with the Infrastructure Management application) The Configuration Management module includes a set of functions to manage any CI in the CMDB. It is a configuration management tool that allows users to add/modify/remove any resource defined in The N(i)2 Suite and associate them with any other resource while still following business rules. In this module, managed resources can be equipment, software, a contract, an incident, a task… All the other business modules allow users to manage business resources with specific and dedicated business workflows. The Inventory Management module allows documenting the current hardware inventory, or designing the future hardware inventory within its location hierarchy context. This module handles resources like chassis in racks or printers in rooms. Q. What is the scope of the items defined and described in the CMDB? The definition of CIs are available within the default packaging of the N(i)2 CMDB platform. These definitions include CI categorizations, all required attributes, CI associations, and business rules. The CIs already defined in the CMDB include:  Infrastructure related CIs: network equipment, office equipment, supporting structure, location, network resource, network link, racks…  Application related CIs: database, software, process…  Service related CIs: incident, problem, request, service…  Business related CIs: cost, human resource, contract, cost center, department… There is more than 45 categories of CIs defined in the N(i)2 CMDB. These categories are classified into more than 200 subcategories. © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /4 Last update: 11/6/2009
  5. 5. Q. Can any kind of non-IT equipment be included in the N(i)2 CMDB, including bar-code items? Yes. Non-IT type of equipment can be supported by the N(i)2 CMDB. A broad range of catalog items have been defined although the catalog can be extended based on customer requirements. TShe N(i)2 CMDB functions are generic and therefore applicable to any asset being managed by the CMDB Q. Can I attach documents to a CI in the N(i)2 CMDB? If yes, what type of document? Documents can be attached to any CI. Documents are objects that are referencing external files such as Word, PDF, Excel, mails, images … Q. Can the N(i)2 CMDB Platform track CIs’ change history? Any change (creation/update) of CI properties can trigger a change history in the N(i)2 Object Model. This history shall be automatically displayed in the property view by selecting the CIsQ. Q. Is there a parent/child relation defined in the N(i)2 CMDB? Are there other types of relations available? There is more than 65 relations (called associations) defined in the N(i)2 CMDB. These associations could represent a hierarchical, descriptive, or connectivity context. For example, the user can navigate in a hierarchical view based on the containership relation. The user can also trace the make-up of a circuit, through the connectivity relation. A generic association is provided to the end user (RelatedTo) and can be used with any CIs. The Associations are defined in metadata. Q. How is the N(i)2 CMDB populated? There are (6) main strategies to populate the N(i)2 CMDB: 1. The N(i)2 Design Modules allow users to populate the CMDB through design functions like “add resource to inventory” or “connect two nodes”. 2. The N(i)2 Management Applications consist of management modules where configuration items, such as incidents or tasks, are created through workflows. 3. The N(i)2 Reconciliation Services are used when importing/synchronizing CIs from/with a 3rd party application or text-based files. This rules-based reconciliation enables the mapping of database columns into N(i)2 objects/associations properties. 4. The N(i)2 Discovery that discovers hosts and related CIs (hardware components and software applications…). 5. 3rd party applications that access the N(i) 2 CMDB via using the N(i)2 APIs (Java, Perl or WebServices) 6. 3rd monitoring systems that use the N(i)2 APIS. Currently available are: - Off-the-shelf interface with BigBrother® that creates all monitored devices and services. © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /5 Last update: 11/6/2009
  6. 6. - Smarts® interface that automatically creates all the discovered devices and network topology (Layer 2 and 3) Additionally to using the N(i)2 APIs, the N(i)2 Dashboard provides powerful functions (Wizard-based) in order to import excel sheet or any other formatted ASCII files. Q. How is the imported data synchronized? Is there any development required? Data can be synchronized, or reconciled using several rules:  By always replacing existing data with imported one  By ignoring the import if the data already exists (or timestamps)  By displaying the complete auditing report of the discrepancies (the user needs to define what is going to be reconciled). Q. Does N(i)2 offer a report subsystem? Can existing reports systems be used or integrated? The N(i)2 dashboard includes a generic report engine enabling customer-defined reports. Existing reports systems can use the API to query the CMDB model. Q. Which interfaces does the N(i)2 CMDB currently support?  Import of text-based file (CSV, ..) or excel sheets  Smarts Incharge (Fault management)  BigBrother (fault / monitoring tool) Q. How does the N(i)2 CMDB compare with the one included in HP OpenView® Service Desk v5? The N(i)2 CMDB was developed with the purpose of being used as a standalone product. For this reason, the N(i)2 CMDB includes a graphical user interface with its own set of management functions, queries, and reports. The CMDB provided with the HP Service Desk is meant to be used solely in conjunction with additional applications, therefore has more limited domain scope and functionalities. The two solutions can be compared at three levels: 1. CIs and Associations: HP’s CMDB manages all their CIs in tables with a proposed common set of attributes. Additional fixed numbers of user definable attributes are also available. In the N(i)2 CMDB, CIs are managed in a object model, where every CI has his own set of attributes and business rules—there is no limitation when defining additional attributes. In the N(i)2 CMDB, the CI scope is not confined to address inventory items only, it also includes any other resources that need to be managed within the IT department. In the N(i)2 CMDB platform, incidents, problems, contracts, costs, IP addresses, routers, desktops, VLAN… are all CIs. These CIs are based on catalogs, which is the foundation for the proper management of a “Configuration”. © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /6 Last update: 11/6/2009
  7. 7. HP’s CMDB provides two types of associations, one for the hierarchy (vertical) and another for links (Horizontal). In the N(i)2 CMDB, predefined business associations are provided which include business rules. For example:  A fiber cable cannot support a “Connected to” association with a copper port  MS-Excel software cannot support an “installed in” association with a Unix box. 2. Queries and Reports: Regardless of their category, HP’s CMDB reports are based on a single form of CIs. Reports basically act as filters from a list of CIs. On the other hand, the N(i)2 CMDB reports are based on a generic form and business specific forms of CIs and their relationships. Reports can be viewed as tabular, schematic, and location views. The N(i)2 CMDB reports can be highly generic according rules and filters (navigating and filtering CIs according to a business query). A set of pre-defined reports is also provided. 3. Services: The N(i)2 CMDB platform provides a set of embedded capabilities such as:  Workflow engine: enabling business workflows according to ITIL processes  Metadata engine: enabling the customization of CIs, relations, and business rules  Reconciliation engine: enabling a smooth change management process  Location engine: enabling the geo-positioning of any CI  Administration functions: enabling user access according to roles and privileges  Content Management: enabling CIs to be related to any external documents managed by 3rd party document / content management tool 3. QUERIES & REPORTS Q. Can users search for CIs based on attribute values or CI type? The user can use the embedded search engine using any attribute values per CI type or category. Q. Are there any predefined reports for the CMDB? What type? A set of generic queries have been developed in the system to allow users to generate customized reports on demand, regardless of the CIs involved. In The N(i)2 Suite, all queries adhere to a process where users:  Launch a query based on a context (attribute values, CI type, location class association…) © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /7 Last update: 11/6/2009
  8. 8.  Select the required CIs attributes  Select the types of result (table, HTML, schematic, hierarchical table, location…reports)  Filter the results (sort, filter…)  Generate additional report (based on selected items, regenerate other reports) More specific reports are also available within every business module. 4. REQUEST MANAGEMENT Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite include an order management function? Which 3rd party providers does it integrate with? The N(i)2 Suite includes a Request Management module. The types of requests that can be tracked are Service Requests, Asset Requests, Change Requests, and Orders. Requests/Orders can be notified through the Service Desk (thin web client) or through the N(i)2 dashboard. We do not currently integrate with 3rd party Order Management tools. 5. DISCOVERY Q. Is the discovery process based purely on IP connectivity? The Discovery module is part of the Infrastructure Management Application. It is an agent-less discovery tool designed to detect automatically over the network, IT assets running under the SNMP (for Unix and Windows platforms), and/or WMI protocols (for Windows platforms only).  The discovery process is based on a single IP, a set of IPs or an IP subnet. Hardware components are discovered for both Unix and Windows platforms while software components are discovered for Windows platforms (using WMI).  The Discovery module is definitely the fastest and most practical way to populate and update the N(i)2 CMDB in a continuous change process.  The Discovery process can be scheduled in advance to be run at the most convenient time or can be launched live on one or many equipment. A technical document that describes this module is available on demand. © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /8 Last update: 11/6/2009
  9. 9. Q. The system can do application discovery on windows, but is there a corresponding function for UNIX? Currently, the application discovery is only supported on Windows platforms. The discovered information depends on the MIB’s available on the Unix host. N(i)2 is currently working on a solution to improve the application discovery capabilities for Unix. A technical document that describes this module is available on demand. 6. INCIDENT MANAGEMENT Q. While The N(i)2 Suite implements ITIL® processes such as Change Management or Incident Management, how are activities submitting changes? How are the ITIL processes implemented? Can they be customized? Functions in the N(i)2 Suite are actually workflows controlled by a workflow engine. These workflows can be customized according to the customer process. The default incident management process delivered with the system is very straightforward as explained below: A. Workflow “Create Incident”:  Requester creates an incident through the service desk (HTML portal). Alternatively, the incident can also be created by a support staff member  System assigns the incident to the proper incident owner, support staff member or support group: - Incidents are assigned to the proper owner through a user-definable mapping between incident types and support staff  System sends a notification to the assigned owner B. Workflow “Manage Incident”  Incident owner opens the incident  System displays incident information with proposed solution related to incident  Incident owner uses the solution knowledge base to resolve the incident  Incident owner can send the solution by mail: - Incident owner can submit the proposed solution to be included in the solution knowledge base. The proposed solution could require an approval by the support manager. The solution will be visible in the solution knowledge base only when status changed to “approved” by support manager. C. Workflow “Escalate incident to problem”  Support manager selects incident to be escalated as a problem, if root cause of incident not identified - In The N(i)2 Suite, problem management tracks the object “Problem”. Here the incident will be cloned as a new item (problem) © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /9 Last update: 11/6/2009
  10. 10. 7. INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT Q. Is the network elements representation only available in N(i)2? (Is it available in other interfaces such as Micromuse or HP Openview?) The N(i)2 CMDB API can be used to represent network elements. 8. CHANGE MANAGEMENT Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite reconcile between various designs in the process of getting provisioned? Example: there are provisioning designs that will take place one after the other. However, there is a conflict of port usage between 2 designs. Does the system realize that a port is used already even though this provisioning of the port is going to happen in the future? In The N(i)2 Suite, designs are executed on an “image” (or a clone) of an actual CI from the inventory. Designs are also executed on new CIs. In the scenarios, all changes will be marked as “as intended”, such as for a change that is to occur in the future if the scenario is approved and implemented. Designs are organized in project scenarios in order to enable multiple design proposals using the same CIs (as origin). At any time, from any “as intended” CI, the user can check if the CI has been used in another design scenario in order to avoid design conflicts. Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite do “Service Activation” after provisioning? If not, which third party providers does it currently integrate with? The N(i)2 Suite does not include a module for “Service Activation” and is not currently integrated with a third party solution that provides service activation capabilities. However, the low-level Java API (which is conforming to the OSS/J Interoperable API Set (www.ossj.org ) can be easily leveraged in order to implement interface with OSS type of application (billing, trouble ticketing, service activation …) 9. USABILITY Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite provide capabilities to display CIs in Tree-view where the hierarchy is supported? Or display schematic view where CIs associations are logically displayed? Any query in The N(i)2 Suite can be displayed through a variety of different view types. The view types available today include: © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /10 Last update: 11/6/2009
  11. 11.  Tree view for hierarchical context  Tabular view  Hierarchical view for displaying attributes on top of hierarchy  Map view for geo-referenced information  Plan view to display relations and network connectivity  GANTT view for deployment tasks  HTML views for standard reporting Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite provide any drag-and-drop capability? Yes, it is used to associate CIs. 10. ADMINISTRATION Q. What kind of data import does N(i)2 Suite support? The N(i)2 Suite includes functions to import ASCII (Text) files to populate the CMDB with catalog items or configuration items. These import features can leverage the rule based reconciliation capabilities. Q. What is the size of database? The size of the database is customer project specific. Customers select for every project the databases they want to use: Oracle, SQL, Postgres… Q. Integration with GIS and OSS systems - what's available? Any OpenGIS system is supported. Although there is no integration with OSS systems today, our API conforms to the OSS/J standard and therefore interfaces with OSS. Q. Does The N(i)2 Suite support automated naming based on the definition of a naming convention? The N(i)2 Suite allows the user to define “Default Values” for selected attributes. At creation time, the system will generate the naming of the CIs or any attribute value. The naming definition capabilities include inheriting value from other CI description based on associations. Q. How difficult is the installation process for The N(i)2 Suite? The installation can be impacted by the overall architecture of the system, though standard installation of the server with a local database can be done within an hour. The client applications are maintenance free. They are either rich clients automatically downloaded/updated through Webstart®, or thin clients that require an Internet browser. © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /11 Last update: 11/6/2009
  12. 12. Q. Does the N(i)2 Suite allow the user to customize (or define) CI properties like adding user attributes, or modifying business rules? CI definitions in the N(i)2 Suite are managed in metadata XML files and are fully customizable. Users have the possibility to create new definitions or modify existing definitions, including user definable attributes, new associations types… 11. API Q. Is the database organization/schema open —be seen or used by a 3rd party application directly? Are there any APIs for integration with another vendor solution? As mentioned below, The N(i)2 Suite mainly uses an object model. The object model is mapped onto a database schema using EJB or Hibernate mappings. This database does not contain any business rules or triggers in order to provide database independence. The database schema is open, documented, can be accessed by 3rd party applications, though there is no consistency / integrity checking at the database level. The best way to interact with the N(i)2 object model (and therefore the database) is by using the low-level Java API providing all common CMDB functionality. A Web Service API is also available and it is also possible to access the Java API from within PERL scripts. Q. How is the integration with, for example Netcool or Infovista, being carried out? Integration with The N(i)2 Suite always follows the same process:  Identify the resources to track in the CMDB - Ex: performance measurements data for Infovista  Identify the workflow - Ex: automatically gather performance measures from Infovista and link them to appropriate resources  Identify any necessary management/reporting functions within N(i)2 - Ex: performance management reporting capabilities such as :  Ability to generate graphs from the measurements history data and comparison with plan  Trends analysis  Ability to generate SLA reports (performance alarms related to a specific SLA rule)  Ability to manage measurements details in tabular reports (i.e. Excel sheet) with export capabilities - Ability to automatically trigger events or workflow in the N(i)2 Suite according to rules © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /12 Last update: 11/6/2009
  13. 13. Q. Is an integration possible with monitoring systems such as Micromuse® or HP OV TeMIP? If yes than at which level? As mentioned earlier on, monitoring systems can use the N(i)2 APIs in order filled all the necessary data. Besides using the N(i)2 API, the N(i)2 Dashboard provides automatic processes (Wizard-based) in order to import excel sheet. Q. Is integration possible with SLA systems? (such as HP OV BPI, HP OV SQM, IBM TEPS, IBM TBSM, IBM TSLA) Yes. Contract information can be maintained in the N(i)2 CMDB and it doesn’t intercept alerts from the SLA systems. 12. 3 PARTY PRODUCT INTEGRATION RD Q. Can the N(i)2 service desk component be replaced with HP Service Desk? Is there any integration between the two? Yes. The N(i)2 Service Desk modules can be replaced by the HP Service Desk. Integration with HP Service Desk is planned in the roadmap and N(i)2 can update our priorities if required. Q. The N(i)2 strategy is to offer pre-integrated capabilities to other vendor products. Which 3rd party products are currently integrated? N(i)2 addresses the implementation of this strategy according to priorities driven by sales. Currently, an off- the-shelf interface is available with Smarts InCharge to address the fault management process. Another off- the-shelf interface is also available with Big Brother for network monitoring capabilities. An interface is currently being implemented with Infovista to address the performance management process. Our next efforts will be focused on the CiscoWorks and Voyence interfaces to address configuration and deployment/release management. Q. Can the user switch from the network diagram view to the configuration interface of Cisco Works, or HP OpenView NNM? As mentioned earlier, an interface with CiscoWorks is planned. It enables the access to Cisco Works configuration interface from within N(i)2. The same process is applicable for HP OpenView NNM © N(i)2 – All rights reserved /13 Last update: 11/6/2009

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