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New Horizons By Daniel J.

Oberst

Enterprise Systems
Management

E
arly administrative and enter- plications might be well-versed in the tems’ ESM framework and tools in 1998.
prise applications grew up in use of their particular tool, the informa- Few colleges or universities had experi-
mainframe environments, where tion gathered may not be understood or ence with these tools, largely because of
inte grated management and even accessible outside of the group. the high cost, which large businesses
monitoring tools provided status infor- For managers, tracking down the source could justify in terms of revenue growth
mation as well as performance tracking of problems involves repeated calls and potential and income liability, and be-
and tuning. Answers to questions such queries to each of the systems in an at- cause of the overall complexity of these
as “How come I can’t get to the Human tempt to pinpoint the problem, with no systems. Most institutions have moni-
Resources System?” or “Why is the Stu- easy way to consolidate and aggregate toring in place for their earlier main-
dent System slow?” could be ascertained the information from the underlying frame solutions and have developed or
b y l o o k i n g at t h e m a i n f ra m e, it s layers. acquired point-solution tools for man-
processes, or the network between the Enterprise Systems Management aging networks and UNIX systems.
user and the central computer. But in (ESM) vendors attempt to solve this Until the growth of new, complex sys-
today’s distributed systems, these kinds dilemma with a coordinated set of moni- tems, most have not felt the need for
of applications depend on multiple NT toring tools that work all the way up the broader ESM tools. With Tivoli, Prince-
and UNIX file servers, back-end data- protocol stack, from network connectiv- ton began a partnership that provided
base servers, front- and back-end Web ity and operating systems to complex an affordable path to determine the via-
servers, distributed output devices, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) bility of these products in the cam-
sometimes application suites, and that pro- pus environment. In addition to the
servers or transaction- vide a common reposi- systems-monitoring tools, Princeton also
processing monitors, tory for operation and acquired network monitoring (NetView)
along with all the net- performance monitor- as well as helpdesk (Tivoli Service
work path dependen- ing at all levels. At the Desk), job scheduling (Maestro), and
cies among these ele- h i gh e st l aye r, E S M output management tools (Destiny).
ments. Answering the tools attempt to model Our initial efforts focused on design-
same type of questions and monitor business ing and implementing the underlying
today is a much more systems and practices framework for Tivoli and establishing
difficult task because s o t hat t h e o v e ra l l independent implementation of the
of the complexity of health of a system or other products. The last three were es-
the systems and the va- application (e.g., pecially time-critical, since they were
riety of management Hu m a n Re s o u r c e s , replacing systems being phased out,
tools available. Student Records, Finance) can be deter- and efforts at integration took a back-
Each platform in a system (NT, mined. When problems occur, drill- seat. For the initial deployment, three
UNIX, Windows, network hubs and down tools permit recursive querying of staff positions were loaned to the roll-
routers, etc.) might have a different tool the supporting components to identify out effort. A year later a reorganization
for monitoring its operation and per- underlying causes. created a three-person ESM group to
formance. Above the operating system, run systems management, job schedul-
each of the services and applications Enterprise Systems Management ing, and output management. In many
might itself have a separate reporting at Princeton University of the large-industry Tivoli implemen-
and monitoring tool. Even though the As part of a broad implementation of tations, each of these efforts would have
groups responsible for the operation of new administrative systems, Princeton three to five people assigned to it, so our
each of these systems, services, and ap- University began to deploy Tivoli Sys- implementation to ok longer than

58 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 䡺 March/April 2001


anticipated. In addition, dependently and at a was high relative to the benefits of exist-
the rollout was slowed layer of abstraction ing monitoring, and much momentum
by staff turnover as that allows for com- was lost in time needed to implement
we moved from pilot plex aggregation the necessary but peripheral job sched-
to production, by and analysis. The uling and output management systems.
the pressure to de- TEC, which moni- But we are about to roll out two major
ploy Maestro for tors log activity, pro- distributed applications (Human Re-
production control, vides a rich correla- sources and Student Systems) in addi-
and by the need to tion engine to provide tion to the current Finance, Accounts
choose an alternative higher-level analysis. Receivables, and Alumni Systems. And
vendor, Dazel, to remedi- And although graphical project managers are now beginning to
ate Y2K production printing user interface tools and rule- ask for the type of monitoring and man-
(after an unsuccessful attempt at builders simplify much of the agement that can be obtained only
implementing Destiny). Nevertheless, interaction with these components, within an ESM framework.
we are now monitoring 149 hosts with working with the underlying object
Tivloli’s distributed management tools structure, creating programmatic com- How to Get Started
and framework and are using the Tivoli mand-line interactions with the system, You can find demonstration run-
Event Console (TEC) and underlying and digging into the Prolog code of the throughs on the Web sites of the largest
database to produce regular reports and TEC’s rules engine are almost essential ESM vendors: Tivoli (http://www.
drill-down Web pages for event track- to a successful implementation. tivoli.com), Computer Asso ciates
ing. Production faxing and administra- (http://www.computerassociates.com),
tive output needs are being managed on Staffing and BMC (http://www.bmc.com). Closer
70 queues for 20 printers through Expect to dedicate staff to your ESM ef- to home, creating an inventory of exist-
Dazel, and all of the new university ad- forts: the systems are complex and ing “point solution” monitors on your
ministrative applications are scheduled training is essential. Outside consult- systems is a valuable starting point.
and managed through almost 30 0 ants can speed up architecture and in- There are likely far more of these than
schedules and nearly 2,000 Maestro stallation issues, since few of these sys- you know, and these are the areas that
jobs. tems operate “out of the box,” and an need to be converted over or “wrapped”
experienced engineer can help steer if ESM is to be successful. You may
Lessons Learned you around many po- have difficulty getting
ESM software products are complex tential pitfalls. system administrators
and require a large staff investment and A large percentage to give up their existing
lead time. Small organizations may have of ESM efforts fail, in tools, but the big win
difficulty justifying the overhead and large part because of comes when all the
expense. And even though upper man- the complexity of monitoring efforts are
agement may be convinced of the need these systems. Estab- consolidated into a
for these products, selling the systems lishing targeted six- central rep ository—
to line staff can be difficult. Many sys- month goals and con- where they can be
tem administrators have their own set of centrating efforts on more easily shared,
“point solution” monitoring tools, particular phases of used by higher-level
which they are reluctant to abandon. the roll-out or systems management , and
Successful implementation of an ESM t o m o n it o r c a n i n - combined to provide
thus may be held up in an underlying crease chances of success. These phases analyses of complicated systems and
catch-22: system administrators see little can include overall systems architec- applications.
value added, and yet the value comes ture, framework deployment, UNIX Lastly, organizations considering
only when all the individual systems can distributed monitoring, job scheduling, ESM should be sure that they under-
be monitored and an overall aggregated output management, NT distributed stand what goals they want to achieve.
view presented. A hybrid approach— monitoring, database monitoring, Web Getting buy-in and early cooperation
wrapping the point solutions to incor- and e-mail monitoring, and finally, ad- across the organization will help steer
porate them into the ESM framework— ministrative systems monitoring. the many decision processes along
can leverage existing monitoring and Is it worth it? Several years into the the way and increase
get buy-in once the benefits of aggrega- ESM deployment at Princeton, we have chances for successful
tion can be demonstrated. begun to notice anomalies and prob- implementation.
Systems like Tivoli provide rich func- lems that our local monitors didn’t
tionality and robustness at the cost of track. And we’re starting to tackle our Daniel J. Oberst is Director, CIT
complexity: a distributed object struc- databases and higher-level systems. The Enterprise Services, at Princeton
ture allows Tivoli agents to function in- up-front effort to implement the system University.

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