Event Management in IT Operations. The Journey of RapidOSS v3

IT infrastructure needs to be managed holistically. Its a given. How do we do that? It's been a painful journey.

First there was the "frameworks" (Tivoli/CA). The idea of building all management tools on a common framework so that they would all be integrated, have common user interface, etc. was very appealing. But the execution did not match the promise.

A single framework to manage the entire IT infrastructure turned up to be a pipe dream. Too costly, too difficult and too painful to buy, implement, and maintain. After spending hundreds (millions?) of thousands of dollars, many IT organizations abandoned the framework projects or significantly scaled them down. Most people who worked on framework implementation projects can still feel the bad taste left in their mouth.

Pendulum swung the other way, and most organizations moved to implement the best tools (aka best of breed or point solutions) they can find to manage different technology silos, and management disciplines. Easier implementation both for technical (solve one problem) and organizational reasons (no need for collaboration of different departments), easier to make and show some progress, quicker return on investment (ROI), etc.

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Persistence mechanism trials and Compass Framework revolution

We've used number of different technologies to provide persistence service in our products. Our main concerns/requirements can be listed as:

  1. performance. The persistence mechanism should perform well since we manage real time monitoring data. Number of write/read operations per second as well as performance of the queries are key performance aspects for us.
  2. A fixed/static schema is not suitable for our products since they support dynamic modeling. Mapping from Object to its storage should be flexible.
  3. Querying the object storage should be easy and should not require developer skills.

In the first iteration of our products, we had used a database. However, relational databases have a rigid schema structure, hence modification of the schema by the users was problematic. The performance of the solution was also not ideal. Both read/write and search performance were not adequate for many use cases that we have.

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One model to rule them all.

Can we have a single unified model to describe all IT "assets", everything IT cares about? The idea is certainly appealing, and excites any IT management geek, this one included. Cote has a post where he articulates the advantages of having one standard model to model everything in IT and argues one of the big 4 open sourcing their CMDB solution may be the fastest way to get there. Can this happen? Stranger things did happen but I'd put likelyhood of this one as very low. It would certainly shake things up if a major CMDB became open source and if (this is a big if as well) the model used by it gained traction. One can only hope, not much more we can do.

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Changing horses mid-stream, and joining King Arthur

It's been almost three weeks since we've announced our intention to start releasing our products as open source. I had finished my previous post by hinting that RapidCMDB, a federated CMDB solution was going to be the first open source project to be released. So what happened in the last three weeks? What's the hold up?
The delay is primarily due to a major architectural decision we have taken. All our previous products share a common server platform called RapidServer. RapidServer is all java application server that includes all the needed components to run our applications, and not having external dependencies mean quick and easy deployment.
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Road to open source

I'm excited to announce that iFountain has decided to go down the road not so less traveled and embrace the open source model. Being open has always been in our DNA, and we've agreed that embracing the open source model is the best manifestation of this objective.

As part of being open and transparent, I'll try to journal the road to open source for us. We'll try to get this done right. No doubt that it would not be difficult to post all the source code somewhere, stick on the GPL license, make a press release and declare the mission accomplished. But outcome of that alone would be no good for anyone. It takes more than declaring a license to turn closed source products into useful open source projects. Based on lessons learned from other projects, here is what we intend to do:

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Can you access your management tools from your favorite IM client? Now you can!

OK I admit that only a few people would use the words "IT management" and "cool" at the same sentence, but here I go! You can now work with your managements systems from your IM client. The latest release of RapidInformer now supports AOL IM, Google Talk, Jabber and IBM Sametime. You no longer have to be glued to the glass to stay informed or have a console running to interact with your management systems. Via the bidirectional IM interface, notification come to where you are and you can execute commands directly from your IM client or email. "ESM via IM" so to speak.

Let's review what this thing can do:

Notifications: Notifications can be send via email, SMS, instant messaging, or any system that has an API or command line interface. Not much new here other than Sametime support, moving right along.

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Automated acceptance test example for Netcool event enrichment solution


Scenario: Customer uses Netcool Object Server for event management and requires the events to be enriched with data from a CMDB using RapidOSS. The device or link name will be used as the key to query the CMDB to get the information such as maintenance status, SLA level, location, etc. and populate event fields.
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Automated acceptance tests and systems integration

Systems integration projects in IT management field typically do not follow software engineering methodologies and tools commonly used by software developers. There are number of reasons for this. Integration work is often after thought, integrators (like myself) may write code (mostly scripts) but often not software developers by training. The tools are also lacking since the integration often involves proprietary components and programming languages provided by the vendors. Forget about IDEs, refactoring, unit testing frameworks, etc. Still there are tremendous benefits in using whatever tools available.
We've been working on gathering sort of "best practices" with the objective to make them standard operating practices for ourselves. Looking into some of the techniques/tools/methodologies and learning from our software developers, some of our customers, and web 2.0 world (collaboration), we've identified a core set of practices that we think is not too ambitious: collaboration, version control tools, and automated acceptance tests

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ITIL and ITSM still matter in a world with external providers

John Willis asks whether ITIL still matter in the world of Amazon and Google (what I had referred as "best in class infrastructure providers"). ITIL skepticism is not new; there has been skeptics since the beginning for variety of reasons; some more valid than others. John is raising the issue from a different perspective. He stipulates that ITIL may not be required if majority of the services are provided by external giant service providers.

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Groovy4Netcool script example: updating an event field

In the previous post, I'd announced the Groovy4Netcool project. In this follow up post, I'll go through a simple script as an example to demonstrate how it can be used. The objective is to work with an event in the Netcool server, to get the value of a field and update that value.

First, I should highlight the files in this project are NOT required to use groovy to work with Netcool server. Groovy language has inherent support to work with database via jdbc. The files in this project provide an infrastructure to make it easier to work with Netcool so that one does not have to know or deal with JDBC and SQL, although they are available.

 

First, I need to set the connection parameters for the Netcool server in the NetcoolDataSource.groovy file.

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