SMARTS looks to manage across domains

SMARTS will boost its management software to help users more quickly pinpoint problems in systems that deliver business applications.

At next month’s NetWorld+Interop in Las Vegas, SMARTS will unveil its InCharge Application Services Manager (ASM) module, part of the company’s InCharge line of network performance and availability software. ASM plugs in to SMARTS Service Assurance Manager (SAM) to aggregate data from third-party collection agents and other SMARTS adapters that plug SAM into Cisco Systems Inc. network equipment and management software from IBM Tivoli Systems Inc., for example. The module features a correlation engine that searches through agent information and compares it to a library of potential performance errors to pinpoint application performance problems.

Once loaded onto a server, the InCharge SAM software begins an auto-discovery process on the network, seeking out alarms, Management Information Base variables, SNMP event data, system log data or data from other network management software, such as Hewlett-Packard Co.’s OpenView or IBM Tivoli’s NetView. The software is written to include information about each managed element and the potential problems than can occur. It searches for “symptoms” of those problems with network-independent object models.

A business application, such as online shopping, for example, depends on a Web server, an application server, a database, a router or switch, and operating system software all working in concert to deliver a service to an end user. Many companies, such as SMARTS competitors Computer Associates, IBM Tivoli, HP, BMC Software Corp. and others, can monitor and report on the performance of one or each of those elements separately, but SMARTS claims with ASM it can now monitor across those domains and manage the total application service delivery cycle.

Until now, InCharge worked to find the cause of problems with network hardware, such as switches, routers and servers. Another part of SMARTS product line includes SMART adapters, software plug-ins that tie into the SAM software and monitor and report on data collected by other vendors’ tools.

Glenn O’Donnell, a program director with Meta Group, says the ASM software can help automate some parts of service-level management, a technical discipline that attempts to understand and then manage the relationships between network, systems and software applications within one infrastructure. And although SMARTS has yet to reach the goal of fully automating the process, O’Donnell says the statistical analysis that SMARTS provides in its software does ease and quicken problem identification and resolution for IT managers.

“[SMARTS] is helping users map applications to the individual components that make them up, which is a largely manual process, and no one has figured out how to completely automate it yet,” he says. “But with its underlying data models, SMARTS is providing a lot of ease of use and helping users extend management into more environments.”

Pricing for the ASM module begins around US$16,000, depending on network configuration. SMARTS InCharge SAM software, which costs US$60,000, is required to run the ASM Module.

SMARTS will be announcing the beta availability of its ASM module at Interop in May. The company says the new module will be generally available in July.