An Interview with Bill Karpovich from Zenoss
September 29, 2010
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In BSMdigest’s exclusive interview, Zenoss CEO Bill Karpovich discusses Business Service Management in the cloud.

BSM: Are companies moving their mission-critical business applications to the cloud or are they testing it first, with less critical applications?

BK: The general answer is testing first, but it also depends on what kind of a company you are. If you’re a new business that is entirely web-centric, like say a fashion e-tailer driving buyers to flash sales events, then your best bet is to have an elastic cloud-based model built from the ground up to take advantage of the cloud.

Now, on the other hand, if you are a more traditional enterprise, your business critical applications will most likely only migrate to the cloud after the lesser critical applications have been successfully migrated. We’ve seen this phenomenon in virtualization whereby business critical apps only get virtualized after the low hanging fruit of non-critical apps have been virtualized.

BSM: Are companies that deploy private clouds having trouble getting the business side of their organizations to buy into or have confidence in the cloud?

BK: Confidence in the cloud from a business owner’s perspective means confidence in the ability to assure service levels (performance and availability) to their business critical applications. The cloud involves a supporting infrastructure shift from a one-application-one-server service delivery paradigm where service could actually be assured through over provisioning of resources to a shared, dynamic resource delivery. This makes insight, visibility and service delivery assurance much more complex. So while it is easy to perhaps understand the cost efficiencies associated with cloud computing, service risk is what drives a lack of confidence.

BSM: What are the greatest BSM challenges companies face when they move to a private cloud?

BK: Moving to the cloud, either private, public or hybrid, means that you have essentially adopted an IT-as-a-Service paradigm. Done well, it means that your IT operation is self-service driven off of a service catalog with appropriate chargeback in place. The challenges here are many including the evolution of the organization, tools and processes.

For example, from an organization perspective, there is the breaking down of traditional organo-technical silos with a clear line-of-sight towards service delivery to the customer. New skills will be required.

In the area of tools, a brand new set of tools that are service aware, real-time, unified, multi-tenant and automated are required to support visibility and control of the next generation dynamic cloud infrastructure.

BSM: Do you feel most monitoring and management solutions are unable to handle the cloud?

BK: Yes. Virtualization and cloud change everything that we know relative to service assurance monitoring. There are many layers that are interconnected in this new infrastructure model that need to come together to assure service. These include physical unified computing servers like UCS that contain policy, virtualization and storage layers and then cloud layers. Add to this the fact that the configuration of resources is changing dynamically then this of course points to a completely different set of needs whereby the manual CMDB update is a thing of the past. Legacy tools are siloed, fragmented, static and single tenant. They have no notion of a real-time service model.

BSM: What is a must-have for a monitoring solution to work in a private cloud?

BK: If I had to pick one thing it would be dynamic model-driven monitoring. There are too many moving parts to keep up with either in an operator’s head, or in Excel spreadsheets. What is required is a model that is able to automatically and continuously keep up-to-date with changes to the dynamic configuration and to provide real-time insight and control into the service dependency model. This, in my mind, is the must-have for monitoring highly dynamic cloud environments, whether private or public.

And a real-time service model isn’t just something you bolt onto the side of your legacy-monitoring tool. It needs to be architected and purpose built from the ground up with this application in mind.

BSM: Everyone seems to agree that most IT environments will be hybrid virtual and physical environments for the near future. Why is it important to have one monitoring solution that covers both environments?

BK: There are a few reasons. I like to call these the three C’s; context, consistency and completeness.

Let’s start with context. When troubleshooting or looking at a particular incident, if everyone is working from the same dataset that covers both physical and virtual within the same model and with the same timestamps, then you can avoid the silo wars.

Consistency and thus operational efficiency comes about when the operations team uses the same uniform toolset.

Completeness is important when troubleshooting a performance problem where for example you might use one tool to determine the performance of the virtualization server and then a different tool to determine the performance of the guest OS and then try to correlate these at a historical point-in-time. Swivel-chair monitoring between different toolsets should be a thing of the past for monitoring hybrid environments.

BSM: What are the differentiating capabilities of the new Zenoss 3.0 release?

BK: In July we released Zenoss Enterprise 3.0 and our Dynamic Service Assurance vision. This release was the culmination of a lot of UI work that now enables users to visualize, search and interact more productively with the Zenoss real-time service model.

We believe that we are the first to deliver the ability to provide single-pane-of-glass insight and service assurance across all of the various interconnected physical, virtual, network, storage, UCS and vCloud computing layers.

About Bill Karpovich

Bill Karpovich, CEO and Co-Founder of Zenoss, conceived the company's disruptive business strategy and has successfully guided the company from start-up to a category leader. As an IT management and cloud computing visionary, Bill has been featured on the cover of InformationWeek Magazine and is frequently consulted by the media and industry analysts for his insights on IT management and the broader open source software market.

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