Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tidal offers 'Intelligent Automation' for Microsoft Exchange Server

Tidal Software has launched a new product aimed at automating Microsoft Exchange Server management. Intelligent Automation for Exchange Server enables IT to ensure that administrative processes are executed and managed consistently and that corporate policies are adhered to.

As businesses rely on Microsoft Exchange as a platform, not just for business messaging, but as part of their business processes, it results in more complex management requirements. These can often drain valuable IT resources and slow processes down to an unacceptable level, something automation is designed to alleviate. [Disclosure: Tidal Software is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

While IT departments could automate these processes through scripting, those scripts would lack policy-based controls, auditing, or privilege management, all of which are offered in Intelligent Automation. The new product also can help identify problems with email that originate in the client, network, or third-party tools, and which are sometimes attributed to Exchange Server.

Among the features of Intelligent Automation:
  • Assisted migration to Exchange Server 2007.
  • Standardized management processes for Exchange.
  • Secure self-service administration for Exchange, delegating many common add/remove/modify types administrative tasks to line of business users or HR through simple, automated processes.
  • Fully auditable, maintaining complete auditability for any administrative actions performed on the system.
  • Systems Center Operations Manager 2007 support.
  • Completely customizable with a powerful visual process editor.
Intelligent Automation is available immediately. More information is on the Tidal Web site.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Adobe shoots for 'create once, present anywhere' value with worthy Open Screen Project

Trying to deliver rich content effectively to the stubbornly heterogeneous end-user device tiers has produced more tears than triumphs. Adobe is aiming to fix that with the ambitious and inclusive Open Screen Project, which today throws adobe's considerable installed base weight behind an industry-collaboration movement to standardize interface delivery.

By leveraging Adobe's ubiquitous Flash Player and soon Adobe AIR, the project's ambition is to allow ease in creating rich content -- including video -- and delivering it consistently to televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics. The means is a consistent runtime environment for content, applications and services to present well across a variety of "screens," from cell phones, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), and home entertainment set top boxes.

Adobe's efforts will provide a significant counter-punch to Microsoft Silverlight/Live Mesh move to accomplish similar values using the market presence muscle and developer allegiance to the Windows, .NET and Visual Studio world.

May the best means to get the job done in a way that aids developers while protecting the choice of consumers -- and being acceptable to the content, network, and device makers -- win. The Adobe-Microsoft tussle on this front may be just what's needed to break a moribund app delivery solutions field apart, and to get the job done ... finally.

The announcement builds on Adobe's earlier forays into open source adoption drivers for Flash. Adobe's newest moves may even force Microsoft to be more open with its technologies, always a welcome development in the market. That's because the Open Screen Project includes:
  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash¨ Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees
  • Making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free.
And there's a community! Such partners as ARM, Chunghwa Telecom, Cisco, Intel, LG Electronics Inc., Marvell, Motorola, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics Co., Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Verizon Wireless are keen to Open Screen. And content provides seem to like it to, including BBC, MTV Networks, and NBC Universal.

This is an exciting development. I hope it's open enough to both assuage the "Adobe lock-in" critics and force more openness generally in this market. The de facto accepted standard is needed.

Enterprises ought to take a hard look at this as a potential way of delivering via RIAs content, services and applications from SOAs to many devices and types of consumers in a common approach. Very powerful.

And wouldn't all of this pair up nicely with Android and the Open Handset Alliance? Adobe ought to join OHA ASAP.

And I very much look forward to getting and delivering a lot of the best content to all of the best places.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TIBCO puts infrastructure pieces in place for cloud compute-caliber SOA

TIBCO Software founder, chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadive used his keynote presentation at the opening of the TUCON user conference today to describe the need for an "event cloud" to support the demands on next generation of enterprise infrastructure.

Such an elevated level of cloud management would allow for complex business events and activities to occur in "real-time" at the huge scale demanded of modern business processes. He said TIBCO's goal remains the same as it has been for years, to the bring the right information to the right places at the right times. Only now is that vision nearing fruition, and the combination of SOA and cloud computing will make it happen, he said.

Ranadive also decried data trapped in databases, preferring a pending era of data portability. A global bank, for example, can expect to manage 100 million "events" a month, all of them relating to petabytes of data. Such scale and complexity will require software and hardware that can manage and adapt to keep up with demand and service performance management requirements. Relational databases won't pass muster, he said.

Ranadive's comments followed a slew of announcements by TIBCO today that, when you boil them down, add up to cloud compute-caliber SOA infrastructure in the making. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

After speaking with a number of TIBCO executives and customers a few things become clear:
  • Portability of data is going to be a very big deal in coming years.
  • Look for tighter and more strategic alignment between TIBCO and Microsoft in the coming months.
TIBCO is embracing Microsoft Silverlight as the common presentation foundation for many of its BPM and SOA interfaces and management activity views and consoles. TIBCO is also making Microsoft's Windows Communications Foundation work well with TIBCO Enterprise Message Service, and more compatibility across additional products is likely.

The visions of cloud computing has especially strong appeal to TIBCO executives, and TIBCO play a significant role in the interactions between various cloud hosting and provider organizations. The Palo Alto, CA-based company is in discussions with notable cloud services providers, executives said. It is also possible that TIBCO could itself enter into the cloud market as an integration services provider.

The company also see growing need for interoperability infrastructure to support the increasing use of enterprise mashups and lightweight data integrations.

TIBCO proactive management approach enables SOA performance delivery as a managed service

The business of running IT for major organizations has been moving in a maturity model direction for some time. ITIL, IT service management methods, various compliance measures, and the seemingly never-ending mantra for IT to do more with less are behind these necessary trends.

Yet SOA brings a new level of needed sophistication to how IT runs itself, and how IT can perform like a business within the business. As SOA decouples services from applications and their support infrastructure -- and the use of and demand on those services becomes dynamic, even erratic -- how do you keep the trains running on time? Just as IT service management matures, SOA can make things chaotic, from a performance management perspective.

A series of announcements today from TIBCO Software's user conference, TUCON in San Francisco, underscores this need for SOA support and performance management to gain maturity, and for those scaling up SOA activities to now look for the means to provide mission-critical performance in all circumstances. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

As enterprises also build out "private cloud" support infrastructure, a deeper and wider level of management and automation of performance management becomes essential. These times do require better management approaches.

I'll be blogging more from the TUCON event today, and adding more detail to these announcements. For now, here are the basics:

--TIBCO rolled out ActiveMatrix Service Performance Manager, which helps companies predict and fix IT problems. The performance management support, which maps dependencies and supports SLA-based delivery, is designed to play well with SOA governance, an important part of taking SOA governance to the next level.

--TIBCO is delivering an "ultra-low latency" message delivery support with its first messaging appliance. Proper performance demands raw horsepower, in addition to the finesse of dependencies mapping and vulnerability predictions.

--There are also two intriguing partnership announcements. TIBCO has partnered with Microsoft on SOA adoption paths, and TIBCO has selected Microsoft Silverlight for building and delivering rich Internet applications, which builds on TIBCO'S AJAX development.

--Secondly, TIBCO is partnering with BMC Software, in that BMC will use TIBCO infrastructure as the SOA foundation for its Business Service Management Platform.

The need to detect behaviors and patterns in ongoing SOA-based processes and transactions will provide the confidence and transparency large organizations require to build out SOA systems and methods across more business critical activities. Complex event processing offers a key ingredient for this SOA forensics value to occur. More on that later.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

HP ramps up integrated SOA management and lifecycle offerings

HP has unleashed a slew of product updates and enhancements to provide lifecycle services quality and management support, moving ever closer to a comprehensive mission-critical SOA maintenance portfolio.

Today's launch covers a wide range of products and includes new versions of Service Test and Service Test Management. At the same time, HP's Software group added new capabilities to Business Availability Center for SOA, Diagnostics for SOA, and SOA Policy Enforcer.

HP says that these product enhancements will help users accelerate enterprise-wide level SOA adoption by providing assurances that services meet design and operational requirements. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

of the new versions and capabilities include:

Service Test Management allows quality assurance teams to plan, design, and execute their activities from a SOA perspective and to instantly report on pre-production quality. By integrating this with SOA Systinet, teams can alert users that services are ready for consumption.

Service Test enables functional testing of SOA services, reducing the risk of application failure and is fully integrated with the extended BTO portfolio across the service lifecycle.

Business Availability Center (BAC) for SOA manages shared services within the existing operational IT infrastructure and processes, reducing deployment risk by ensuring that services are actively managed. It also provides proactive problem resolution before services impact consumers and business processes.

Diagnostics for SOA allows teams to identify and resolve problems by drilling down into shared services. This can operate in standalone mode or can integrate with BAC for SOA.

Policy Enforcer monitors and enforces security, performance, and other operational requirements. Monitoring data is fed directly into Diagnostics for SOA for analysis.

These products, embracing HP's BTO and Systinet SOA registry offerings, pulls together the design time and runtime elements of SOA to produce the scale and quality management assurance that telecos, financial firms and healthcare providers are demanding, said Kelly Emo, HP Software's SOA Product Marketing Manager.

The combination of these enhanced products and SOA methodologies allows for quality assurance, testing and requirements definitions to produce the services and processes that then require mission-critical operational service management, says HP.

"There's now more integration for a SOA lifecycle," said Emo.

I'm often fielding questions from enterprise IT strategists on how SOA design can be implemented to assure quality performance, especially in dynamic use patterns. The previous management approaches to distributed applications needs to be promoted to SOA scale, many of these organizations are finding.

It's important not to confuse SOA governance with performance management. SOA governance will help define the best ways that services can and should be used, and how to provide policies and guidelines for those orchestrating and consuming services and composited business processes. But the infrastructure beneath all of that governed SOA activity needs to be managed, and performance needs to be maintained.

In the best of al worlds, these functions relate well and can be managed and refined in unison, a vision that HP is obviously embracing with today's announcements.

More information about the HP SOA portfolio is available from the HP Web site.

Splunk adds change-management and Windows support to IT search software

IT search company Splunk today added to its arsenal of tools for IT managers with the launch of Splunk for Change Management, an application to audit and detect configuration and changes, and Splunk for Windows, which indexes all data generated by Windows servers and applications.

The San Francisco company provides a platform for large-scale, high-speed indexing and search technology geared toward IT infrastructures. The software, which comes in both free and enterprise versions, allows a company to search and navigate data from any application, server, or network device in real time. [Disclosure: Splunk is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Splunk for Change Management, which requires an enterprise license, continuously audits all configurations and changes, detects unauthorized changes, validates change deployment, and discovers service-impacting changes during incident response.

The new application leverages the existing Splunk Platform, allowing users to combine change audit events, configuration data, activity and error logs, and actual system and user behavior. This differentiates it from the traditional approach, which is often disconnected from incident response and cut off from other sources of IT data.

Among the features of the new product are:
  • Out-of-the box dashboards with over 40 reports showing changes across all datacenter components including applications, servers and network devices.
  • Predefined alerts that detect unauthorized change based on configuration variances and correlation with service desk systems.
  • Predefined searches to help identify service-impacting changes
  • Integration with service desk systems that validates the effect of change on system behavior.
Splunk for Windows, a free application, integrates Splunk's IT search with Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager's command and control view of the Windows infrastructure.

Splunk indexes event logs, registry keys, performance metrics, and applications log files, making all the data searchable from a single place.

Reports and dashboards included in the application provide a bird's eye view of service levels and problems across a large number of servers and applications, and predefined alerts can warn of cross-component problems.

Splunk has a variety of solutions for IT managers and developers who need some visibility into their various systems and components. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the Splunk Platform.

"The Splunk Platform and associated ecosystem should quickly grow the means to bridge the need for transparency between runtime actualities and design-time requirements. When developers can easily know more about what applications and systems do in the real world in real time, they can make better decisions and choices in the design and test phases. This obviously has huge time- and money-saving implications."

And, more than two years ago, I did a podcast about Splunk, when it launched the Splunk Base, an open Creative Commons-licensed repository of Wikis that with volume adoption to give systems troubleshooters a searchable library of knowledge about what ails IT components and how to swiftly remedy those ills. You can listen to the podcast here.

Splunk for Change Management pricing starts at $4,000 and requires an enterprise license. A 30-day free trial is available.

Splunk for Windows is free and is now available on the Splunk Base site.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

HP's security management model brings comprehensive approach to corporate risk reduction

Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

We live in an age where there is so much exposure to risk and information security pitfalls that when data gets out -- it gets out in a big way. Devastating security breaches are becoming routine in the media, and those are only the ones we hear about. There have never been more ways for sensitive data and corporate assets to be poorly managed.

So how do large, complex companies and governments better protect themselves? How do they manage new compliance regulations that spout up and change constantly? How can people and processes be better organized to thwart bad practices before they lead to potentially catastrophic losses?

Surprisingly, the answer has more to do with management methodology than security technology. In this sponsored podcast discussion learn from HP security expert Tari Schreider how a comprehensive new security management approach, called Information Security Service Management (ISSM) and its reference model, offers companies a comprehensive framework with which to finally come to grips with myriads corporate risks and daunting compliance requirements.

Here are some excerpts:
When we read about a breach of security -- the proverbial tape rolling off the back of the truck with all of the Social Security numbers -- we find that, when you look at the morphology of that security breach, it’s not necessarily that a product failed. It’s not necessarily that an individual failed. It’s that the process failed. There was no end-to-end workflow and nobody understood where the break points were in the process.

It’s not unusual for us to present back to a client that they have three or four different identity management systems that they never knew about. They might have four or five disparate identity stores spread throughout the organization. If you don’t know it and if you can’t see it, you can’t manage it.

HP's ISSM ... positions security as a driver for IT business-process improvement. It reduces the amount of operational risk, which ensures a higher degree of continuity of business operations. It’s instrumental in uncovering inadequate or failing internal processes that stave off security breaches. It also turns security into a highly leveraged, high-value process within your organization. ... It allows you to actually make security sticky to other business processes.

When I sit down with CFOs or CIOs or business-unit stakeholders, I can ask one question that will be a telltale sign of whether they have a well-managed, continuously improving information security program. That question is, "How much did you spend on security last year?" Then I just shut up. ... They don't have any answer. If you don’t know what you are spending on security, then you actually don’t know what you are doing for security. It starts from there.

We show them that they actually have 40, 50, or 60 [security products], because they're spread throughout the organization, and there's a tremendous amount of duplication. ... Today, security controls are buried in some spreadsheet or Word document, and there is really no way to manage the behavior of those controls.

We want to work with that individual and position the ISSM Reference Model as the middle layer, which is typically missing, to pull together all the pieces of their disparate security programs, tools, policies, and processes in an end-to-end system.

Historically, businesses throughout the world have lacked the discipline to self-regulate. So there is no question that the more onerous types of regulations are going to continue. That's what happened in the subprime [mortgage] arena, and the emphasis toward [mitigating] operational risk is going to continue and require organizations to have a greater level of due diligence and control over their businesses.

It seems that you are weaving ISSM together so that you get a number of checks and balances, backstops and redundancies -- so that there aren’t unforeseen holes through which these risky practices might fall.

The beauty of ISSM is that it's very nimble and very malleable. We can assign responsibilities at an attribute level for control, which allows people to contribute, and then it allows them to have a sharing-of-power strategy, if you will, for security.

It's that cohesion that we bring to the table. How they intersect with one another, and how we have common workflows developed for the process in an organization gives the client a sense that we are paying attention to the entire continuum of continuity of business.

Businesses are run on technology, and technologies require security and continuity of operations. So, we understand that this is a moving target.
Listen to the podcast. Read a full transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.