Barely Managing

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One of the unfortunate truths of this business is that service-level agreements typically are not worth the paper they are written on.

This sad state of affairs exists today because there is no holistic approach to managing anything. We may have some fairly sophisticated network management tools, but our systems management tools are rudimentary at best, and our application management tools are essentially nonexistent. And actually trying to share meaningful data and alerts across different types of systems is maddening.

The core problem is that we have always taken a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach to management. While we know a great deal about what is happening on a network at the packet level, we know next to nothing about how individual applications are performing.

MICHAEL VIZARD Can be reached at (516) 562-7477 or via e-mail at

The good news is that there are now two companies focused on application-level management. The first is Opsware, formed when Loudcloud was acquired by EDS. Leveraging technology originally developed for Loudcloud's hosting service, Opsware is being refined by former Netscape engineers led by CTO Tim Howes. Other key Opsware executives include Chairman Marc Andreessen and CEO Ben Horowitz, both of whom were with Netscape.

The second company to watch is Vieo, which last week previewed its approach at the Demo conference in Palm Springs, Calif., and is scheduled to roll out its offering over the coming year. Vieo is the brainchild of former Tivoli executives, including Tom Bishop, former Tivoli CTO. Other key executives include CEO Bob Fabbio, who helped found Tivoli, Dazel and Ventix; and Chief Scientist Jim Mott, who was the lead architect for IBM's AIX operating system.

It will be awhile before either Opsware or Vieo totally usurps the established players in this space, such as IBM or Computer Associates, but they are worth your consideration. As we collectively prepare to move to next-generation systems-oriented architectures for applications, the ability to actually manage applications is the crucial missing link needed to turn all the hype into eventual reality. And the tools from Opsware and Vieo could be that missing link.

Got another point of view? I can be reached at (516) 562-7477 or via e-mail at

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