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20 hot markets for 2007

Opinion
Mar 13, 20064 mins
Data Center

* The future of network management

EMA’s report, “20 Hot Markets for 2007” should be coming out of production just at about the time you read this. It was an opportunity for me, along with the rest of the firm, to explore less-than-obvious approaches to capturing less-than-obvious markets with an eye to the future rather than a linear projection of the past. As such, it involved pretty much the whole firm and has become a sounding board for our best minds to look at “markets” in everything from service management to storage and security, to VoIP and out-of-band, and business service management.

However, as the prime orchestrator of the report, I had a chance to formulate some of the ground rules: explicitly not to look for conventional markets in conventional terms but to find hot areas of growth that typically involved implosions and conversions of technologies, more often than not with a cross-domain (network and/or systems, and/or application) flavor. The result was, as I had hoped, not tidy markets, as they ranged from the very small to the very large. Nor were they necessarily designed for market sizing. Markets that are defined to be exclusive taxonomies, so that, for instance, a vendor or product can absolutely fit in only one or the other – often do not reflect the real underlying forces of how this industry grows.

For my money, the most interesting markets in IT management software are messy markets, where technologies explode in multiple and unpredictable ways, serving multiple IT user populations at once, without regard for the old, Mesozoic (read age of dinosaurs) taxonomies. The interesting markets don’t care about networks or systems, or even applications; they care about infrastructure-enabled services. And the critical markets will explode so polymorphically that they’ll touch – for instance – change and configuration, security and compliance, and service assurance and service provisioning, with the same rhythmic heartbeat.

Let’s take one of the easier targets for ridicule or confusion – or perhaps a bit of both: “network performance management.” One would think that, on the face of it, “network performance management” is a perfectly sensible term reflecting those solutions that primarily monitor the performance of the network. And that would mean the performance of network devices individually and collectively. And wouldn’t that make sense? Yes, it would.

However, most of the growth in network performance management for the last five years hasn’t been in monitoring network devices for classical performance criteria – such as CPU utilization and buffer overload. It’s come from looking at the performance and in some cases, active management of IP application traffic over the network.

It’s also come from sophisticated investments in looking at user response time in terms of observed and synthetic transactions. And it’s come from strong service-level management capabilities for mapping service performance across the infrastructure to committed contracts.

It’s come from optimizing the network infrastructure based on application consumption. And it’s come from tools that enable application developers to work with network operations, and quality and assurance to actually understand how to prepare new application services for a real networked environment.

It’s come from anomaly detection suitable for security policy enforcement and security intrusion detection. And it’s come from (or starting to come from) the integration of device configuration criteria so that configuration changes can be monitored directly as they impact the health of the “so-called network.”

Finally, it’s come from integrating that separate market – fault management – for integrated troubleshooting and more detailed topological and inventory analysis.

In the future, it will come from supporting more modularized and network-dependent IP applications – starting with VoIP (it’s an application still) and moving into Web services-based service-oriented architectures.

So what market is this? “The lifecycle management of networked application services for performance, availability, configuration and security in support of service level commitments?” Well, it’s an ugly market and a messy market, and of course, it’s so vast as to be nearly obscene, but it represents a real confluence of activities. And if you want to “market size it” – Go ahead, make my day!

Now I do believe that in the near and long-term future, new taxonomies will emerge that will be a little fuzzier and a lot less rhetorically obvious than those in the past and our “20 Hot Markets” report is helping to set the stage for those. Taking behemoth markets such as the above and finding new and meaningful ways to subdivide them – in many cases without using the words “network” or “performance.”

In the report, you’ll find more hard thinking and less pure tirade, but you’ll still find that some of this messy, iconoclastic spirit is there, encouraging you to look and see things at least just a little differently. If you’re interested in finding out more about this report, please go here.