Trim business service modeling from months to hours

In order to keep a business service available and performing well, an organization needs to know what IT components comprise that service: hardware, software, application processes, storage, etc. A new SaaS tool from Neebula Systems simplifies the process of discovering and mapping a business service's IT components, reducing the modeling time from the traditional weeks or months down to just hours.

If you think about the reason IT departments exist, it's not to build networks or to operate servers or to manage databases. IT departments exist to provide business services, either to internal stakeholders or external customers.

In many ways, business services represent the business itself. For example, a mortgage company is known to its customers through its loan processing application. A logistics company shows its public face through its shipment tracking application. A business' reputation hinges on the availability and performance of these crucial services.

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IT executives are primarily tasked with maintaining availability of these services. To accomplish this task, their teams need to prioritize which services are most important and then drill deep to understand the correct relationships among the plethora of hardware, software, application processes, storage, and networking gear comprising the business service. Discovering these items is relatively straightforward. Numerous IT service management (ITSM) vendors have asset-based discovery solutions. However, discovering and mapping the relationships among these items to a business service has often been tough.

The discovery and manual mapping process is laborious. Worse yet, changes made in infrastructure, like software patches or installation of higher capacity storage devices, requires synchronizing and updating the business service map. So, while people are toiling away creating the business service model and connecting all the dots, the IT environment is frequently changing at the same time. The painstaking work becomes a Sisyphean-like task that only seems to grow worse with each passing day.

Ariel Gordon, the former CTO of BMC Software, was one of the early champions of the movement to make business service modeling easier, faster and more efficient. Today, he is a founder of Neebula Systems, which he says addresses the previously recognized shortcomings of business service modeling.

Neebula ServiceWatch software automates the business services discovery and service model creation process. The software requires as input only a top-level entry point to the business service, such as a URL or MQ request. The Neebula software proceeds to follow the path to discover and map all IT infrastructure components -- hardware and software -- connected to that particular business service. Its application queries servers through the lens of an extensive knowledge base and message broker to identify flows and connections. This top-down approach to business-level discovery and service mapping leverages patented technology to automate the entire service modeling process.

While traditional discovery applications are designed to populate the CMDB with asset-focused inventory information in a "boil-the-ocean" approach, instead of attempting to map everything, Neebula employs a step-by-step process working on one business service at a time from the top-down vantage point of the user of the business service. This bite-size approach makes sense as the availability of the business service -- rather than the population of a CMDB -- is the IT executive's top concern. When combined with Neebula's automated method of attacking this problem, the result is that a business service can be discovered and mapped within hours.

The company is offering a preview version of "ServiceWatch in the Cloud." As a SaaS application, the only software installed at the customer location is a small "collector" application to centralize communications with the cloud application. No agents are required.

Neebula's mission is to tackle the cumbersome discovery and mapping work required to create and sustain accurate service models. The data from these models can be used directly within a Neebula dashboard or integrated into CMDBs from companies such as BMC Software, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and ServiceNow.

Organizations get the same benefits from either approach: increased availability through improved root-cause analysis of incidents, more accurate and informative impact analysis and control of change activities, better business continuity solutions, more thoughtful and targeted data center migrations projects, and visibility into overall health of key business services. The option to consume accurate and stateful service models within the bigger, intergalactic ITSM player's tools ensures the protection and extension of existing investments.

For organizations deciding not to integrate into a legacy CMDB, Neebula provides a single pane dashboard view into the health of key business services. In addition to better visibility, incidents can be completely averted with the knowledge that, for example, a software patch update could impact some key business application. By shortening the mean time to identify and repair issues -- or averting them altogether -- organizations can better manage the availability of key business services and realize a measurable ROI.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation. You can write to her at LMusthaler@essential-iws.com.

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About Essential Solutions Corp:

Essential Solutions researches the practical value of information technology, and how it can make individual workers and entire organizations more productive. Essential Solutions offers consulting services to computer industry and corporate clients to help define and fulfill the potential of IT.

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