Aprisma expands beyond net mgmt.

Aprisma Management Technologies Inc., which has been conspicuously quiet on the new product front, last week reintroduced itself at a customer event as a provider of software designed to keep an eye on overall business services.

The maker of Spectrum told about 250 customers it will go beyond its roots in network fault management to monitor network elements, systems and applications with an eye toward providing an end-to-end view of how services, from taking customer orders to shipping products, are performing. This concept has been given lots of attention lately, but mainly by competitors such as Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp.

“(Aprisma has) been invisible for the past year,” says Debra Curtis, a research director at Gartner Inc.

The new effort is one that Aprisma officials say they hope can help the company put behind it a couple of tumultuous years. During recent years, Aprisma saw its parent company (Enterasys Networks) investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and was sold to holding company Gores Technology Group.

But now company officials say Aprisma is gaining some momentum, pointing to more than US$40 million in fiscal 2003 revenue (in line with company expectations, whereas revenue was off last year), three straight profitable quarters, 20 customer wins this year and partnerships with companies such as CA.

On Aprisma’s product road map is better correlation and integration technology designed to help companies get a big picture view of how their business services are running. Also on tap are service-level management tools, a Web-oriented Spectrum interface dubbed Freedom and improved reporting software.

“To do service management, network managers need to know how all the network components and end users are functioning,” said Aprisma CTO Chris Crowell. “We are adding to our network strength with more application, systems and service views and reporting, but we’re also beefing up our integration with vendors such as CA and BMC.”

Whether Aprisma will succeed remains open to debate.

Jasmine Noel, principal at consultancy JNoel Associates, says it will be more challenging for a network management-focused company such as Aprisma to adapt its technology to a service model than it has been for vendors such as BMC Software, which focuses more on systems and application management. In addition to the technology challenge, Aprisma will have a harder time changing users’ perceptions, she says.

“The mental leap from network management tool to business services management tool is more difficult than the jump from application management tool to business services management tool,” Noel says.

Dennis Drogseth, a director with research firm Enterprise Management Associates, says Aprisma has a chance to do more with Spectrum given that the offering is so scalable.

“Spectrum is seen as an enterprise management integration point for a lot of applications, (but it’s just) not there yet in terms of the company’s talk of managing the business service,” he says.

It was clear from customers speaking at the user conference that the application and service management help from Aprisma is welcome.

“Compared to the way we manage applications, network management is solved,” said Paul Norris, vice president of enterprise management at Morgan Stanley in New York. “There is no way to get an end-to-end view of an application.”

Dan Mather, chief engineer for the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, which provides intelligence support for all the forces supporting the commander in chief, said he has yet to find a product that can give him a complete view of his application performance. He cannot, for example, track how applications perform when crossing a certain ISP network that military and government agencies use.

“Everything we do for application performance management is completely manual. We’d like to get something more automated,” he said.