Javier Soltero, CEO and co-founder of Hyperic
, and I had a fast moving discussion about management of virtualized environments, management architectures, the history of modern computing and came to the conclusion that a well designed architecture offers people freedom to select the best of new technology without fearing that adopting that technology will force them to abandon years of investment in other technologies. We also agreed that in the fast moving world of IT, it is quite a challenge to develop an architecture that works with yesterday's, today's technologies and yet leaves room for new approaches that emerge some time in the future.
Hyperic did its best to create a management architecture that would deal with physical systems, networks and storage as well as virtualized resources of both today and tomorrow. The two major pillars upon which the designers built their plans were to avoid dependencies on any specific hardware architecture or operating system. This is the reason that the Hyperic management solution is built of indpendent modules that work together using a well established communications architecture. The Hyperic solution is based upon the following open-ended modules.
- Hyperic HQ Open Source - a free download that can discover elements of an organization's infrastructure and quickly begin to bring them under management control from a single portal. This module is open source software protected by the GPL license.
- Enterprise Extensions - this module extends the open source software with further automation and control functions that fit the requirements of larger organizations
- SIGAR (System Information Gatherer and Reporter) - an open source (protected by the GPL) cross-platform, cross-language library and command-line tool for accessing operating system and hardware information for developers looking for portable access to extend management capabilities to their projects and applications
- PDK (Plugin Development Kit) - a kit (once again, protected by the GPL license) that makes it possible for developers to extend Hyperic HQ to discover, monitor, and control any of other applications or devices. The API is based upon Java/XML and should be straightforward for most developers.
Here's a quick SWOT analysis of Hyperic HQ.
- Strengths - this software supports 9 operating systems (just about any major POSIX complient operating system and Windows), 3 Web servers (Apache, IIS, SunONE/iPlanet), 10 application servers, 6 database engines, 2 store-and-forward message queueing systems, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft ActiveDirectory, Microsoft .NET, and a host of other goodies. It's a good bet that most organizations would find the majority of their requirements in this list somewhere.
- Weaknesses - Hyperic isn't a household name (yet) and will face a challenge getting mindshare in this noisy market without a executing a comprehensive marketing and public relations campaign. I also noticed that only VMware and Citrix are listed in the virtualization products supported. This means that there is no explicit support for application virtualization products, many processing virtualization tools (high performance computing/Grid computing environments, clustered environments, other virtual machine software products (Xen and Virtual Server)) or storage virtualization products. Since I know thet folks at XenSource are working behind the scenes with many management tool suppliers, I would expect Xen to be part of Hyperic's list very shortly. Furthermore, since Hyperic has a very large development community and the company is working with that community to quickly extend the reach of its management solution, today's limitations are not likely to stand for long.
- Opportunities - as virtualization becomes a catch phrase on everyone's list of requirements, management of virtualized systems becomes an absolute requirement. This means that if Hyperic can get the word out about their approach to managing virtualized environments, they face a great deal of opportunity.
- Threats - The competitive threats are everywhere. I've spoken to at least 10 other companies that mention they can manage virtualized environments. Most, however, are focused on point solutions and don't perceive or work from the view that there is a great deal of benefit available to those working with a broad architecture.
In my analysis, the architected approach and the overall extensibiltiy of Hyperic's products would be of great interest to IT decision-makers who understand that staff-related costs often comprise 50% to 70% of the 3- or 5-year cost of owning any computing solution. Getting the word out to them is clearly the challenge Hyperic is dealing with today. Hyperic already supports an amazing list of hardware architectures, operating systems, application frameworks and data management tools. This is due to the strength of the community they've attracted no doubt.
In short, I would recommend that organizations spend a little time with Hyperic to learn for themselves how better management means lower costs.
Has your organization looked at Hyperic? What do you think of their approach and track record of success?