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The way it is and the way it should to be

By John | March 21, 2008

With all this talk about clouds and provisioning, coincidently, yesterday I had a conversation with one of the leading Tivoli provisioning consultants in the world. I have a client that needs to upgrade to the latest Tivoli Provisioning Management (TPM) product and I reached out to this consultant to help me. This consultant is used by IBM to implement TPM around the world. My client needed a ball-park estimate in order to get a provisioning conversion project into their next year’s fiscal budget. This client is a relatively small enterprise class customer with less than 500 servers. When I asked the consultant for a time estimate, he said 4 months. I tried to politely say your nuts and we settled on 3 months.

Now contrast this with the infamous iLike/Puppet story. Last year iLike.com added a new Facebook application to their service and they gained 35k new users in 24 hours and over 700k new users in just a couple of days. Within a three week period they went from 3 million users to 6.7 million users. Less than a year later, they now have 23 million users. Surely, they must have used an industrial strength multi-million dollar provisioning system – “not”. Their provisioning system was FREE. With the help of a consulting company called HJK they used an open source product called Puppet to manage their server growth. HJK boasts that with a really short services engagement, one or two weeks, they can achieve 10 minute psychical system bare metal installs. On Xen images they can provision a system in two minutes. In other words, for about 15k in services and another 15k for a Puppet maintenance contract, HJK can provide a solution that the Big Four charges over a million plus and they can deliver the solution in two weeks instead of 3 months.

I am also reminded of a recent client visit where IBM brought me in to discuss possible network management upgrade strategies. During the meeting the customer asked me a question I hadn’t anticipated – “John, we are looking at $500k in software upgrade costs and another $500k in services to implement the upgraded software, do you know of any open source alternatives?“. The fact is that I wouldn’t have answered that question no matter who the vendor was that brought me in. Moreover, certainly not in front of IBM who indirectly produces over 90% of my current revenue stream. However, what I really wanted to do was shout out loud – “Talk to Tarus in Podunk Pittsboro, because he will do it with software and services for around 50k”. Tarus Balog is the owner of OpenNMS, another open source IT management solution.

How long can the large propriety IT management software vendors continue on this collision course?

Topics: ibm, ilike, opennms, provisioning, puppet | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “The way it is and the way it should to be”

  1. Adam Jacob Says:
    March 21st, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Hi John, this is Adam with HJK. In the last couple of months I’ve hard the opportunity to talk with all sorts of people who are building or running large “Web 2.0″ infrastructures. In their world, using tools like Puppet, Nagios, OpenNMS, Capistrano, and a whole host of others is common place. The choice of tools vary, but the need for more automation rarely does.

    The last great frontier in Open Source infrastructure tools is Auditing and Compliance. We integrate a whole bunch of world class tools to provide well managed, fully automated infrastructure. In most large companies, though, that’s not enough. You also need to be able to report on and instrument the internal corporate policies by which those systems are managed. If your business is run by sending charts, graphs, and reports to executives, you’ll find the Open Source answers often lacking.

    Things like SarbOx compliant Identity Management solutions just don’t really exist. You can build them (and I have) but a world-class open source alternative just doesn’t exist yet. (Since it’s bound to come up, what I mean when I say “SarbOx compliant Identity Management solution” is a system that allows a user to be managed in a single place, and have that action cascade to all the relevant systems. With an auditable log of when they were given Authorization, when it was taken away, and ideally, when and where they used it.)

    This same story can get told for every piece of the Open Source stack. The core technologies are awesome. The degree of automation you can get with them is world class. The amount of scaffolding you need to build around them to integrate them into a large, complicated enterprise? Daunting.

    Now, all that said. If you had a $500k services budget, you could put those technologies in place. If you had that budget and a heart of gold, you would open-source it, and lower the bar even further.

    So, whose building the rocking Open Source compliance and auditing stack? :)

  2. IBM and the History of Autonomics | John M Willis ESM Blog Says:
    March 27th, 2008 at 2:54 am

    [...] in IBM’s product(s) muck, I have yet to see an example of any of their Tivoli solutions that self configure and self heal. In fact, I challenge anyone at IBM to debate me on the merits of Autonomics as it [...]

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