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An Intuitive Approach to BSM

Understanding what's going on in a business service process is big money for technology vendors. It's a business that Netuitive is aiming to shake up with it new Service Analyzer 2.0 that automatically learns what's going on to provide enterprises with actionable metrics.

"What's unique here is the service-level aspect," Daniel Heimlich, Netuitive's vice president of marketing, told InternetNews.com "Often times, service levels are managed retrospectively as organizations will look at their key performance data at the end of the day or month. The idea of being able to manage against service-level objectives in real time is something that is new and unique."

The Netuitive Service Analyzer 2.0 product is targeted at the business service management (BSM) marketplace, which has been dominated traditionally by HP, IBM, CA and BMC. Netuitive sees BSM as stemming chiefly from the ability to understand all the system components within an organization from the standpoint of the services they represent.

"Services are made up of multiple components, including a Web front-end, an application server, a database, a network and all the various components actually create the end-user experience," Heimlich said. "Looking at all those components holistically is what BSM is about."

According to Netuitive, Service Analyzer is self-learning and adaptive, and works by more fully understanding the various components that make up a business service. When there are degradations, Netuitive enables an enterprise to better understand how those problems relate to what's happening in the infrastructure.

"The way the system works is first it self-learns the behavior of each of the system elements within the enterprise," Heimlich said. "It also learns things like quality-of-experience monitoring and transaction speeds and then correlates for an end to end view called service health."

Heimlich added that most competing solutions require enterprises to do a lot of manual configuration. These generally rule-based techniques tend to involve manual human input and understanding, whereas Netuitive's model removes much more of the guesswork, he said, enabling faster deployment and a better customer experience.

Another benefit of Netuitive Service Analyzer is that it does not require enterprises to install new agents in its infrastructure. Rather, the system leverages an enterprise's agents and application monitors already in place. Netuitive then normalizes the data coming from those agents and provides a services-wide view of health.

Despite its strengths, established competitors don't feel particularly threatened by Netuitive's solution. Mark Stouse, a spokesman for market giant BMC told InternetNews.com that his company considers Netuitive a niche player, which has to compete with what Stouse described as the space's most comprehensive, architected BSM offering.

"BMC pioneered BSM, and right now, Forrester and Gartner both project that BMC is 18-24 months ahead of our nearest competitor, which many believe to be HP," Stouse said. "In addition to the 'Big Four' -- BMC, HP Software, IBM-Tivoli and CA -- there are clearly many niche players that have a place in the market, but they generally compete more against each other than anyone else."

Still, Heimlich believes his firm can give bigger players a run for their money by offering what he described as a new paradigm in managing systems from a services perspective. However, that change requires that customers adapt to different organizations and operations.

"We're providing a level of granularity with new types of health indicators, and there is a question as to how they incorporate that into their current process and that's a key project for us," Heimlich said.

With its self-learning approach, Heimlich also said Netuitive may have a key role to play in fully autonomic computing environments. Autonomic computing is the idea that machines can fix and manage other machines, thus requiring less in the way of expensive human oversight.

"We see Netuitive as the link that will provide actionable triggers for autonomic self-healing computer systems," Heimlich said.

At any rate, there may be enough to go around even with a slew of smaller players like Netuitive competing for a piece of the pie.

"Approximately 25 percent of large enterprises have already started BSM, and Forrester indicates that approximately another 20 percent will do so in the next 12 months," said BMC's Stouse. "The focus now is on delivering greater and greater business value and shorter and shorter time-to-value."