How many SPOGs?

Seems like every vendor is preaching the value of the Single Pane of Glass ( SPOG ) to their customers. For those of you who have been operations folks, the fragmented nature of xMS ( NMS, SMS (security), SMS ( server ), BSM, APM, etc.) has been a nightmare for most organizations. The data is more silo’d than the IT departments and it really doesn’t scale because of the lack of interaction between the data in the management domain.

So the industry lately has really zoomed in around the idea of the single pane of glass management system. And it got me to thinking

Does anyone really want a single pane of glass?

I think a lot of people are looking for a way to manage complex environments and the idea of having a SPOG that lets you see everything in one console is such a tempting idea. But is it realistic? And even if it was, would it even be useful?

I don’t think anyone would try to argue that convergence in the data center isn’t a reality. The network is virtual, storage is distributed. Applications are federated. Everything is built on a stack of lies and no one in the operations group has any idea where their particular domain of responsibility ends anymore.

But in meeting with many different organizations, it seems that although people want (and NEED ) the SPOG. They also seem to want to continue with the seperation of the seperate silos of servers, storage, and networking.

I’m still thinking this through, but it seems to be that the network guys ( and gals ) want to see things from a network-centric point of view. The servers want to see this through a server-centric point of view, and the storage wants to see this through a storage-centric point of view.

What’s interesting though, is that in smaller shops where the Ops team is actually one or two people who do everything, they still seem to prefer a SPOG per IT domain.

Functionaly Dysfunctional if you will.

There are some solutions out there, like Cisco UCS Manager that does have some great stuff going for it and seems to bring together the Data Center networ and the Servers. I haven’t had a lot of hands on, but it does seem to bring the data center into a SPOG, and I can see the value in that.

But I wonder about the rest of the network. What about the end-users? The data center only exists to offer services to end-users and a solution that seems to completely discount the users it is supposed to serve just seems like it’s missing something to me.

What do you guys think? Would you rather have a NMS tool that allows you to see into the networking centric portions of the virtual environment and gives you full visibility to the end-user? Full visibility into the end-to-end transaction, at least from the network perspective?

Still thinking this one through…



5 thoughts on “How many SPOGs?

  1. Man oh man. So much truth in this post. Vendors preach and preach, but I wonder sometimes if they are doing so based on customer feedback or just to try and sell one more widget to the masses. I don’t care either way. I just wish full disclaimers happened. Nothing wrong with wanting to move product. Most people didn’t know they needed or even wanted a tablet until the iPad came out. Now we can’t seem to do without them.

    I have asked various vendors about a lot of things that the end users seem to want. Fabrics, SPOG’s, silo collapse, BYOD, resources on demand(ie block/pod solutions), etc. In my opinion, it seems to be mainly vendor driven when it comes to the latest thing. I also understand that I don’t see the big picture like the vendors do. I am but one person trying to absorb that which is not humanly possible. I reserve the right to be completely wrong.

    Back to your post though. I don’t think you can make monitoring/management software that can be 100% all things to all people. You can get close, but I don’t think you’ll ever be able to manage every aspect of another vendor’s product. You would have to have massive resources dedicated to very specific modules, as I don’t think you could code such a monster without being modular. However, that also assumes a vendor will allow third party tools to get complete hooks into their particular product.

    The unfortunate thing is that unrealistic staffing levels are causing silo collapse in a lot of companies. People need to manage storage and compute or network and storage because there aren’t enough bodies to handle those parts individually. If you run on a skeleton crew, the last thing you want to do is manage a dozen different monitoring/management tools. In that scenario, I would rather get 75-80% visibility off of one program than 100% visibility trying to juggle a dozen programs.

  2. Thanks Mat,

    That’s the situation that vendors find themselves in. ( I’m not PLM, so I don’t say “ourselves” ). How do you create a product with features that are relevant to the masses. If you can create value, whether that’s by streamlining process, solving a business problem, or just making the ops lives a little easier is for the customer to decide. I’m just not sure that most of the SPOG solutions out there are meeting the mark.

    Of the current fades, I think the only one that’s vendor created is the fabric concept. FCoE. is, IMHO, something that Cisco has driven in to the market for their own benefit. Whether this was visionary or self-serving? I don’t know yet, the market will determine that in time. Most of the time, the the storage guys don’t want unified fabric

    I think that BYOD, Silo Collapse, Resource on Demand (cloud) are all market demands that are been pushed on the business whether we like it or not. As networking professionals, we need to deal with them and the vendors need to come up with solutions to help us.

    I really think that this is the double edged sword of SPOG management. is that people think it’s SUPPOSED to be single-pane-of-glass for the entire IT operations.

    If you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.

    I agree with you that we don’t want dozen’s of different management apps. But I do think that it makes sense to have one for each of the silos that has a view of the entire infrastructure from access to core.

    1) A network management app that handles access to core, MPLS, wireless, etc… as well as integrates into the hypervisor for virtual network management. ( Shameless pitch for IMC, but I really believe in the product ).
    2) A server management app that handles server hardware managent and integrates into the hypervisor.
    3) a OS managment app that handles service and patch management for windows, macs, IX variants ( unix/linux)
    4) A storage management app that handles FC, ISCSI, NFS, CIFS, etc…. ( I think this one is a pipe dream…)

    I’ll put together another post on my SPOG analogy and through it on the blog.

  3. gurusimran: I think it has to be focused on the delivery of apps, and the desired perf of those
    Original Tweet:

    I agree 100% with this. But I would change the word apps to services. This is a two fold issue though. When you break down the performance charecteristics into their composite parts, it starts to become meaningless.

    The individual metrics that point to the KQI of a given application are usually IT domain specific. And the knowledge required to interpret those metrics is also usually domain specific. Occasionaly, you’ll find someone who is a decent network and server guy. But one who is a network, server, apps, virtualization, and storage professional? I just don’t think that’s possible to be honest.

    There’s just too much data running through the pipes to be able to deal with it. To give you an idea of scale here, I have one customer who is tracking 100,000 different metrics in their Hadoop cluster every 5 seconds.

    They are actually using mapreduce to interpret the data. ( this is some interesting stuff!)

    I THINK ( reserve the right to change my opinion!) that having one SPOG for each of the seperate management domains is probably the right way to go.

    For a long time, people said that’s not possible, but looking at what HP has done with IMC today, I think we’re a LOT closer than anyone thought we would ever be.

    disclosure: I’m an HP employee and an extreme management and IMC advocate.

  4. Your adjustment is a good one. I think one central tool (doesn’t have to be a SPOG) that looks at things end to end with the focus on the customer and their experience using the service, with the ability to drill down into the area that is causing an issue would be best.

    Something with an analytics engine like vCOps that focuses on the service and the customers perception of it. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the storage, network or servers are doing if the customer has the experience they need.

    I think monitoring has to change from being focused on the servers, network and storage and focus on the service, with how those things (and others) impact it.

    I haven’t looked at IMC but you’ve piqued my curiosity, I’ll check it out.

    • Hey GS,

      I agree with the change of focus, but I also feel that we need to retain focus on the individual IT silos as well. I’m still writing the follow up post to this. We definitely need to get out of the trees and start viewing the whole rather than the individual parts, but I also think the parts are important.

      somehow we need to figure out a paradigm where we are top-down AND bottom-up. Rather than one OR the other which is what I see in most tools today.

      HPs IMC has a lot of promise in this direction. It’s still rough in some areas, but because of the SOA architecture, it’s also got the ability to deliver where legacy unintegrated apps just can’t.

      There’s also some stuff getting announced at Interop next week that’s really going to blow this idea out. I’m not allowed to say much more than that, but let’s just leave it as “I’m super excited”.

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