Don’t miss the plumbing for the faucet

You can pick the most gorgeous the faucet, but without plumbing behind it, it isn’t worth much. That’s why I’m not writing a column on storage management this week. I still see so much confusion surrounding systems management that I thought I’d clear the air. Do this stuff first, then obsess over storage management. If you don’t, all your storage-management efforts will be in vain.

Here are the Seven Commandments of distributed systems management:

* Be robust. Provide robust systems-management functions that go above and beyond the capabilities offered by standard operating systems. These ensure that distributed client/server systems enjoy the same degree of reliability, availability, and serviceability that users are accustomed to with their legacy systems.

* Be integrated. Provide functions that seamlessly work together and leverage their strengths. Integration of point solutions is the most expensive component of systems management. Out-of-the-box integration (as with Computer Associates’ Unicenter) maximizes operability while minimizing costs.

* Be multiplatform. Support all platforms that are of interest, not just Unix or LANs. Users need a consistent approach for enterprise management across all platforms, from the desktop to the multiprocessor server. Being multiplatform also means being Web-enabled. Systems-management solutions ade and outside of the firewall.

* Be open and interoperable. Have standards-based solutions with open APIs. Protection of de facto standards and support for formal standards are crucial. Users gain additional elements of interoperability as third parties use SDKs and published APIs to integrate their point solutions into the enterprise-management environment.

* Be thorough. Provide end-to-end management to cover all aspects of the infrastructure such as networks, systems, DBMSs, and applications. Enterprise management is composed of the total manageability of all networks, systems, databases, and application resources that constitute the delivery of services and products.

* Be policy-based. Be business-process-oriented, with automatic enforcement of policies. Policy-based management allows for a more business-oriented approach to systems management. It also enables users to map their organizational model to the way they manage system resources.

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* Be consistent. Provide a consistent user interface and exploit the latest technology to provide information–not just data–with the dual benefit of making users more productive and reducing their learning time. Thanks to major breakthroughs, visual user interface technology greatly surpasses previous GUI technologies. For the first time, enterprises can have a real-world view of their resources.

A few systems-management tools, such as Unicenter, do all of the above. Many do not. Make sure your vendor can demonstrate that it supports the Seven Commandments.

Also make sure it has serious development efforts for Web-based security. You won’t make it into the future without comprehensive intranet and Internet security, transaction management, routing, and recovery.

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