A model-based approach to enterprise service management

David Zager, Ph.D.
Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Avesta Technologies, Inc.
2 Rector Street - New York NY 10006 - USA

This presentation will discuss an approach to enterprise service management we have been working on at Avesta Technologies (a small New York-based software house). The project is named Trinity.

By "enterprise" we mean the set of resources and their interrelationships that make up an organization's distributed computing environment, and that deliver automation services to that organization. Resources include power supplies and network gear, databases and file systems, applications and business groups, and end-users as consumers of automation services.

By "service management" we mean an approach to organizing operational information during the run-time of the computing environment that enables people with operational responsibilities to see the availability of complex IT services. Trinity additionally promotes effective collaboration among various groups with different interests, yet who are all focused on problem resolution and service restoration. Trinity does not perform the role of an automated operator, nor is it a generalized configuration tool.

Trinity's architecture consists of an active memory-database, a set of data acquisition agents that run distributed and in parallel, and a set of presentation applications. The "database" embodies a data model of the resources of a computing environment and their interrelationships. Trinity builds its model by auto-discovering the resources and their interrelations (as far as the environment is instrumented; the rest must be manual). It then animates the model by listening for changes in the real world and allowing the model to change sympathetically. The model both echoes and predicts changes within the overall system. It presents its results both in real time and as historical reports.

Trinity's presentation of the model of the enterprise delivers information about the enterprise appropriately to multiple audiences. Most of an organization sees automation services as end-user IT consumables, rather than as the set of various infrastructural components needed to deliver those services. Unlike the end-user or the help-desk assistant, IT staff need to see the computing environment as a set of resources. Trinity can display the IT consumables as whole things, or in terms of the nested layers of components that make them up, depending on who is interested in seeing the display and in what context.

Trinity helps reconcile the differences in perspective brought about by different worldviews. The complexity of the environment is so great that it is beyond the grasp of any individual to understand. Rather, there is a community of knowledge about its workings; knowledge is distributed among a number of individuals through a number of subgroups. Each subgroup within that community focuses appropriately on a specialized area of expertise, and interprets the world in those terms. So, for example, the administrator's broken NIC is the financial analyst's inability to perform a calculation. Trinity provides the common ground where the broken NIC and the inability to calculate are seen as consequences of one and the same issue.