Axceler aims to shed light on Domino networks

Collaboration platform software developer Axceler Inc. announced this week the availability of greenLight, a monitoring product for IBM Lotus Notes and Domino that works to keep tabs on server usage and has the side benefit of tying in with the server sector’s growing green trend.

The Woburn, Mass.-based business was spun out of parent company Percussion earlier this year, according to Ken Allen, director of marketing for Axceler, who said that the offshoot has been concentrating on Lotus Notes and Domino applications. The greenLight itself was built together with partner panagenda, another IBM Lotus Notes and Domino ISV.

Axceler’s greenLight was inspired by customer comments, said Allen. “They were looking for a way to combine real-time and historical data in their server environments. The biggest challenge is for (these results) to have meaning, so that it’s not just a moment in time but a look at trends and performance over time,” he said.

The product monitors, analyzes and reports Domino network activity, giving program administrators enriched data that incorporates past performance and present situations to yield a more holistic portrait of the server and improved service and performance levels. Said Allen: “Say, if there’s a situation around a failure, you can find out the factors that led to it and know what to avoid next time.”

Axceler’s greenLight also cuts down on another administrator annoyance—time-consuming installation. Allen said that greenLight is a very user-friendly plug-and-play application that provides its graphical information via images on the VMWare Player (a VMWare license is not needed to use this player). “It gives you a proactive topology map of your Domino network, and a very visual graphic of the entire schematic.” Both historic and real-time analysis and reporting is done on things like the number of servers, certification, clustered and unclustered servers, network activity, server status and replication configuration.

False alarms are also avoided, he said, as the historical data will provide context that reduces such alerts. For instance, if a server often reaches 100 per cent capacity, it would not be cause for alarm, a type of knowledge that greenLight would be able to factor into its reporting capabilities.

The breadth and historical data of the reports, said Allen, is what sets the solution apart from competing ones—including IBM’s own built-in monitoring feature, Domino Domain Monitoring. Allen said that Axceler’s customers have said that the built-in feature does not offer enough trend contextualization, and is difficult to set up.

The resulting cost savings from such trend analysis and an ongoing, accurate gauge on one’s Domino systems are significant, but there’s another “green” benefit—an environmental one. According to Allen, the product’s server monitoring capabilities can help administrators keep tabs on power usage (like whether the number of servers can be reduced). “It makes (the enterprise) much greener,” said Allen.

Such a tool taps into the current need for monitoring tools to create a greener enterprise. In a recently released Symantec study, more careful power consumption monitoring came fifth in a list of the most-likely-to-be-implemented green data center technologies.

But one industry analyst suggests power monitoring should form the foundation of a greener server set-up. “In order to deal with (becoming greener), you need good quantifiable data,” said Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president of the Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Group. “But there is a very limited number of performance monitoring software implementations, or the tools aren’t even mature enough, there is a lack of dialogue between the different sides of the business, and a lack of information (on the energy efficiency of their products) from the vendors.”