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How EMC Is Using Its Smarts

EMC is beginning to show some serious progress in its integration of Smarts, the management software specialist it purchased earlier this year for $260 million.

The Hopkinton, Mass., vendor this month will start shipping Application Connectivity Monitor 2.0 (ACM), a piece of software that automatically pinpoints potentially damaging incidents on a network without intervention from administrators.

By mapping relationships between applications and infrastructure, ACM 2.0 automatically discovers and monitors TCP-based applications on the network to let users know if they are available, said Glenn O'Donnell, principal marketing manager for EMC.

ACM 2.0 tells users why applications fail, not just how or where. The software can also discover so-called rogue applications that slipped into the network without permission.

How does it work?

ACM 2.0 looks at the relationships between devices on a network and invokes a correlation. When an event occurs on the network, the software pinpoints exactly where the root cause is, instead of shuttling a storm of alerts to an admin the way most monitoring software does.

Such root-cause triage is valuable for administrators trying to save time and the stress of error detection and correction. Such technology is also important at a time when concerns about network security are growing. Corporation are seeking more effective ways of rooting out unwanted programs, which could include harmful bugs, worms or viruses.

"The idea is to identify who goes out and fixes this problem because we have too much of this 'all the kings horses and all the kings men' kind of response, driven not by logic, but by fear," O'Donnell said. "We have to bring more logic into this and reduce the fire-fighting and the finger-pointing."

With ACM 2.0, EMC is wading into a sea of competition.

Management tools from vendors like IBM, HP, CA and BMC can monitor applications once they learn where they exist. ACM 2.0 differs in that it automatically locates the applications -- without human guidance or intervention.

It's early in the EMC-Smarts marriage, but O'Donnell said the combined entity will have major announcements next year, including the binding of Smarts products within EMC systems, likely Symmetrix and Clariion, for advanced storage management.

EMC plans to use Smarts to build out its information lifecycle management strategy (ILM) for helping customers retain unaltered files for a specific period of time in accordance with record retention regulations.

"The only way we have a chance of achieving that vision [of ILM] is to get better insight into the application," O'Donnell said. "We will have a lot of capability in application monitoring and discovery."

ACM 2.0 can operate as a standalone tool, but O'Donnell said it offers its best potential for triage correlation used in conjunction with Smarts Availability Manager and Service Assurance Manager.

ACM 2.0 is preconfigured out of the box for standard applications. EMC Smarts offers a special GUI interface for customized applications.