One of the great things about virtualization is that it introduces a layer of abstraction between applications and underlying hardware that makes it possible to run multiple stacks of applications on multiple operating systems running on the same processors. One of the bad things about virtualization is that it introduces a layer of software that blinds application management tools to what's happening with the underlying physical hardware.
A variety of companies, such as BlueStripe Software, are addressing this issue. BlueStripe, for example, has developed a suite of application management tools that correlates information about application performance with what's happening at both the virtual machine layer and the underlying hardware.
Being able to do this is important on a couple of levels. The first is simply putting an end to all the routine 'blamestorming' that goes on in the IT department. Every time there is an issue, various IT departments sit around the table discussing what the problem might be and, most importantly, why it could not be their fault. Naturally, everybody has their favorite management tool with them to back up their case, but all those tools usually do is provide information about the status of one piece of the puzzle. To find out what's really going on, an inordinate amount of time needs to be wasted correlating information from different tool sets. According to BlueStripe co-founder and COO Vic Nyman, the company's FactFinder application management software short circuits that entire process by making all the required applications and systems management information readily available.
On a much higher level, the need for a new class of systems management tools is also apparent to anybody who has read anything about IT Service Management (ITSM) or Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). As inspiring as ITIL and ITSM may be, it's not until you deploy a holistic systems management framework that anything outlined in them comes anywhere close to being a reality.
There's a lot of conversion coming down the IT management pike. Companies are tired of having to hire countless IT specialists to master management tools for various point products. And they are especially weary of all the software licensing fees attached to the products. The good news is that ITSM and ITIL have made people aware that the IT organizations desperately need a new approach. The choice now is whether you're going to spend money on consultants to further study the problem, or do something that actually solves the problem.