Systems Manageability – Part 1: Why Manageability Matters

by kishi on March 21, 2007 06:09pm

Impetus: This is the 19th year I have spent in the Information Technology business, out of which more than 15 were spent designing and implementing IT environments of various scopes, platforms and sizes. Among several similarities and differences between each implementation, a few constants always emerged, and my favorite of all:

Systems Manageability. This question always got asked during every high-profile design review meeting. You know the meeting I’m talking about, the one with the CIO and the IT Director are sitting across the table and asking how we’re planning on managing the environment. The main concern you could see in everyone’s expression was “what sort of manageability needs to be built around for operations and support ?”. So why does manageability matter ? Let’s start with what people imagine, when they think of Systems Manageability. It means different things to people in different roles: the Infrastructure folks imagine uptime and redundancy, the Developers imagine reliability, the Business Managers imagine efficiency. But the answer is so overwhelmingly obvious. Had it not been for systems management toolsets, apps and frameworks, ITPro’s and Admins would be worried sick about everything from uptime to reliability to scalability. So yes, manageability matters, a lot, because it’s the knowledge that “all’s well and running smoothly” that matters to everyone from a CIO to a Developer to a IT Admin. 

Importance: Now that we have established the impetus behind why Systems Manageability matters, we should now address the importance tied to it, such as:

  1. Increasingly complex and heterogeneous environments need increased attention: Pick any environment of your choice, whether it’s where you work or the one you hear about the most. It comes with its own share of challenges and oddities. What differentiates one environment from the other is the manner in which it is “run”. The more complex you hardware, software or network stack, the greater is the manageability tied to it. This means that with every component you add to your existing system, you’re only increasing the complexity even further. So is that a bad thing – NO. Because it’s the environment that should be designed with “adaptation” in mind and not the other way round. Thus, having a complex environment simply translates to keeping an eye on more things. Systems Manageability plays a key role in this scenario
  2. Infrastructure sits at the “core” of IT: Here’s an exercise for any of you that may be interested – the next time you see or hear a technology professional being interviewed about a certain “application” or tool that they’ve developed – try to imagine an entire infrastructure that needs to support and run that “tool” or “App”. The exercise will make you think about what’s going on in the mind of an IT Admin who is responsible for running your environment implementation and why Infrastructure is a big deal. Systems Manageability plays a key role in this scenario
  3. End-user productivity has a directly proportional relationship to Performance Tuning and Optimization: Growth comes in spurts and bursts and never an even pace as we all know. This means, various pieces of your hardware, software, toolsets are implemented in various growths and phases. Simply put, growth does not follow a pre-chartered course and timeline. This makes ongoing performance tuning and optimization a necessity.  And it has its benefits - it allows you to see the app or toolkit from the eyes of the people who made it. It also gives you the “know how” to make the specific changes in thresholds and values that could mean a difference of night and day, in terms of efficiency. Systems Manageability plays a key role in this scenario
  4. Striking a balance between Manageability and Flexibility is tough: Identity Management and Security issues are now a mainstream topic of discussion and more and more attention is being paid to system security, access and authentication framework. The single reason for putting these in place to ensure that “you are who you say you are”. On the flip side, overly managed and restrictive environments can limit the flexibility of what an end-user can do. That’s why it is always tough to strike a balance between a system that is secure / well managed and one which seems more “seamless”. Systems Manageability plays a key role in this scenario

In the next seven blogs or so to follow, you will get a detailed breakdown on the Systems Manageability project that we have completed in the lab. We will be covering the Project Methodology and Project Ontology in my next blog. As always, send us your comments and feedback and THANK YOU for tuning into Port25.

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