It's early days for vendors focusing on analytics in IT mgmt.

* The first assessment of analytics in IT management

If CMDB adoption is in the first full blush of morning light, then analytics remains still in the dim, shadowy world of pre-dawn light. Yes, there's light on the horizon, or just below it, and yes it's better than the "Hour of the Wolf" situation (e.g. roughly 4 a.m.) that the market was in probably four or five years ago, but vendor focus in analytics remains scattered and dim.

This is based on the results of the first EMA, and quite possibly first ever, research on analytic technology adoption within the IT management market - spanning service assurance, service-level management and business service management, optimization and capacity planning, security, storage, configuration, process automation, and asset management and chargeback.

However, this is not to say that there aren't vendors passionately aware of analytic requirements for real-time, or near real-time, and historical capabilities - there are certainly a handful of these. In the broader area of managing application and service delivery across the infrastructure (network and/or data center centric), analytics really seem to be taking hold. Out of the 37 companies that completed the survey, a full 20 support something to do directly with assuring services and optimizing infrastructure in support of service delivery. The other areas (actually all related to this requirement logically) capture significant results - with security showing the second strongest play.

The reasons for this are partly pain points. If analytics are the "super weapons" in solving issues around IT service delivery, then they're being most aggressively applied to those areas in the IT service management wars where pain and threats remain most visible and imminent. And that's in service assurance.

By now, I suppose it's past time to clarify just what I mean by "analytics," so here goes. EMA defines "analytics" as "a set of algorithms or functions applied to static or dynamic data collected from IT infrastructure or external sources to enable IT management processes." Basically it's the intelligence that transforms management data into information that's relevant and usable. That information can be applied to these management processes:

* Data gathering - gathering relevant vs. random data.

* Relationship modeling - building effective configuration and topological and application dependency information.

* Storing data in how relationships are modeled.

And of course "analyzing" the data collected so that it can be more effective in supporting decision making for virtually all IT disciplines, or conversely in automating actions, from workflow to actual reconfigurations, in response to conditions in near real time. The heuristics researched included a variety of capabilities from correlation and anomaly detection to fuzzy logic, chaos theory and online analytical processing (OLAP).

If a CMDB system is the ultimate context for effective IT management, analytics is the ultimate energy for making that context valuable, relevant and effective. It is also an area where IT adopters should look to separate the leaders from followers. Sure it's looking a little under the hood, but most car buyers are rank amateurs when it comes to mechanics. However, IT adopters these days need to be at least somewhat professional in understanding design choices in their management investments - both in terms of value and of integration and cohesiveness. (And if you aren't feeling very professional here, there are services from folks like us at EMA to help you.) Otherwise, you're likely to fall victim to the sprawl of checklists and marketing hype and false promises that have bedeviled this industry since its incipience.

So why is so much of the vendor community stumbling when it comes to analytics? Well, first of all, it's a non-trivial requirement. Either you have something or you don't. If you don't it's hard to gloss over it with marketing hype. Second, it's an area of "crown jewels" where competitive advantage is only grudgingly shared in most cases. And third, it is uncharted territory when it comes to industry dialog. EMA's survey is probably the first of its kind. We're asking questions that, in their newness, are causing a lot of parties to balk (some from very large companies with huge resources).

The good news though is that EMA has discovered a growing passion within the industry for addressing the need to present buyers with a cohesive analytic strategy. In large companies, across the four platforms such as BMC, CA, HP and IBM, this is a huge undertaking and therefore not surprisingly overall very much a work in progress. Since no CEO yet has the context to ask its CTO in these companies to fess up to their analytic strategies, it's not surprising that EMA has received a mixture of enthusiastic but fragmented responses, to polite shyness to the point of diffidence in the platform area.

All this aside, I would like to take this moment to honor the 37 companies that have stepped up to the bar and presented (and this does take courage) an honest summary of their analytic capabilities. These companies are, in alphabetical order:

* Allot

* Altiris

* Atenga

* BMC

* CA

* Compuware

* Coradiant

* EMC

* Entuity

* Evident

* HP

* IBM

* Infovista

* Intelliden

* Indicative

* Integrated Research

* Integrien

* Ipanema

* Klir Technologies

* Lucent

* Managed Objects

* Metreon

* NetScout

* NetQos

* Netuitive

* Network Physics

* Opalis

* Opnet

* ProactiveNet

* Q1Labs

* RealOps

* RedSeal

* Skybox

* TeaLeaf

* Tidal

* Voyence

* WysDM

I would invite your thoughts on analytics. EMA will finish its "analysis" of the industry's analytic capabilities in September. So if you have a strong opinion, send them to me ASAP.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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