Companies should hold back from buying major network/systems management frameworks for the next 12 months, according to analyst group Giga Information.
According to Giga, the big four vendors - Tivoli, BMC, Hewlett-Packard and Computer Associates - are in the process of radically altering their products to give companies total control of applications by providing the end-user point of view to the network administrator, something that has been missing up to now.
Until these products are available, Giga advises customers to refrain from investing in new systems and instead install end-user perception tools - available from a handful of smaller vendors - on top of their existing systems.
"If you were planning to make a big investment in one of these technologies, now is not a good time to do it," said Giga analyst Will Cappelli.
"This doesn't mean do nothing. I would advise you to go out and buy one of the end-user perception tools available, and take away the blindness of end-user perception," he said.
Network/systems management tools, such as Tivoli Enterprise and HP's Openview, are suites of management tools that assist companies with controlling their enterprise. But Giga says many of these tools do not yet provide a view from the end user's perspective.
"In many cases, the only place where an application comes together is where the end user receives the application," said Cappelli. "Consequently a network/systems management tool that can't get hold of the end user interface can't get hold of that application."
"Until three months ago, the big four largely ignored this. It is crowded now by a large number of smaller vendors implementing end-user point of view," said Cappelli.
Companies in the space include established network management vendors Vitalsigns with its Net Media product, Gyra Research with SMA, as well as traditional IT players Candle, Landmark and First Sense Software.
"The big four have awoken with the need to take care of this and rushed to strike strategic relationships with the smaller providers and work on their own solutions," said Cappelli.
CA and BMC have already struck deals with First Sense to add end user perspectives to their suites. BMC's Patrol and CA's Unicenter TNG both include First Sense Enterprise, an end user application health monitor.
Tivoli announced a partnership with Mercury Interactive in March.
"If it turns out not to be the one that the market accepts, or Tivoli comes out with one, it doesn't really matter that much, you can rip it out with minimal disruption.
"You'll get a couple of years of really valuable use," Cappelli said.
"But be very cautious about implementing the big stuff over the next 12 months."
However, HP said it disagrees with the call to hold back from spending, saying it provides adequate end user perspective through HP Openview Response Time Workbench, launched in April.
"We think it is a great time to do it," said Godfrey Jordan, Openview program manager for the UK.
"With Y2K, we think it is a great time to make sure you've got the environment properly controlled for Year 2000 and beyond."
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