Rapid changes in network change and configuration market

* Network change and configuration market isn’t standing still

A couple months ago, I wrote a column about network change and configuration management and promised to follow up when we finished our report. Well, it’s done and now available: “Adopting Network Change and Configuration Management Solutions: the Market, the Technologies and Adoption Dynamics.”

It is designed to help potential buyers buy network change and configuration products by explaining technology, market and adoption issues and trends.

NCCM, as Enterprise Management Associates is looking at it, involves a relatively new breed of products from vendors that include AlterPoint, Intelliden, Rendition and Voyence as current market definers, with additional vendors to watch including Aprisma, Emprisa, Dorado, Opnet and Tripwire.

These vendors’ products offer multiple benefits, even when single brands of network gear, such as Cisco or Nortel, dominate a network. The efficiencies in automating changes typically produce substantial return on investment and reduce errors for improved service availability.

EMA estimates that more than 60% of availability and performance problems can be traced back to configuration issues. In one customer environment, we learned that 80% of configuration changes demanded additional configuration changes to achieve desired efficiencies, and that 10% of configuration changes resulted in catastrophic failures. NCCM also supports security and compliance issues through audits and access control, and in some cases can enable the planning and optimization of infrastructure based on policy guidelines, as well as the provisioning of new services.

So is there any downside?

Well, buyers should be aware that this is a great market to invest in, but one which is heating up in all respects. A few of the changes:

* Awareness - We hear almost universally that the stage of “basic evangelization” is over. IT organizations are at least peripherally aware that this market is something to look at.

* Buying cycles - These are shorter but more competitive. The vendors, which a year ago were almost willing to unite to stimulate industry awareness through common dialog, have lost some of that initial camaraderie. Now they are behaving like true competitors - facing each other more in trials. Of course, this is good for you, the buyers.

* Consolidation - Goldwire was acquired by Intelliden earlier this year. Watch for some more action here, especially as major players such as HP, IBM and BMC, all of which have relationships with some or many of these players, look to seize higher ground. This shouldn’t discourage you from buying products today - the benefits are just too great. It is nevertheless something to be aware of.

* Integration - At the time of writing the report, we saw much interest in integration between multiple vendors’ products and management platforms, such as OpenView, but no actual instances. In the short time since the report has been in review and production, that’s already changed. And that’s also a good thing, as it supports the multi-tiered value proposition inherent in most of these products, and in particular, their strengths of availability and performance management.

* New entrants - EMA is watching this market closely, and studying new entrants such as Emprisa. Perhaps most dramatically, since last writing, Opnet has quietly broadened its portfolio - which already includes NetDoctor and Sentinel for compliance-based policy assessments and infrastructure optimization - with a new, yet unnamed product to provide basic change management, which will be introduced in the first quarter of 2005. Aprisma, the vendor with the longest history in this market, is also moving to become a virtual “new entrant,” as it begins to address synergies with its Configuration Manager and its base Spectrum inferencing engine for what should be some significant benefits in automating problem isolation.

The report is available here:


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What NCCM can do for you

Network World Network/Systems Management Newsletter, 09/20/04

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Network World, 11/15/04

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