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In Person: On-demand computing

‘Infrastructure management is key to on-demand computing’

On-demand computing may seem to be yet another IT buzzword. The major hardware vendors have their own unique strategies for it. Now software companies are drawing plans to address on-demand computing in the enterprise. Gonzague Patinier, Consulting director-IT Service Management, Computer Associates, explains the vision for CA's 'Managing On-Demand computing.' by Brian Pereira

What is CA's initiative for on-demand computing?

We call it Managing On-Demand Computing and it's a new way of delivering IT services. It aims to use all the existing technology resources to deliver IT as a service. It will enable more automation in existing infrastructure management. We want to enable the platform to be more responsive and to self-manage.

We observed management tools currently used in the enterprise were able to give technical information. For instance these tools tell us that a particular router or application has failed. But to manage IT as a service, we need more specific details. At present the systems do not give us detailed information about things like how many transactions or users are affected by the problem. Existing tools do not give information that is related to the business.

Our new tools gather detailed information from the device and give it to the technical team and also to the users. The business users will get information relevant to the business, and the technical team gets the technical details about the problem.

How is CA's on-demand computing initiative different from IBM's or HP's initiative?

We are in the same space, but unlike the others we don't sell hardware and only focus on the management. Within your infrastructure you could have all kinds of technologies. But our solution supports all these diverse platforms.

From our perspective, on-demand computing cannot be isolated from your existing infrastructure. It cannot be a new silo of technology within the enterprise. We manage end-to-end. The way we look at it is that on-demand computing needs to be integrated with your existing way of managing your IT infrastructure.

On demand computing requires flexible licensing and we are prepared for it.

How are you adapting your existing products for this new initiative?

We are working with hardware manufacturers in the industry to make the devices more intelligent. The device itself will be able to identify its problem. To enable this we provide the hardware partners with APIs, for instance. The device will automatically contact the help desk when there's a problem. It will trigger an alert by itself, reporting the failure in itself. This will create a service-oriented architecture in the enterprise.

We are also working with companies like webMethods, as we are looking at not only managing the infrastructure, but also to manage some of the business processes. webMethods provides the workflow automation tools. Using these tools we will be able to measure if some of the processes are taking too long. So it will deliver additional information about the service to the user.

What kind of reporting and analysis comes out of this?

Some of the key technology that we use for on-demand computing is the capability to automatically detect the components within the infrastructure (automatic discovery). It can indicate the components servicing a specific business process, or a specific application. We can discover and map the dependency for these components to the business.

What are the drivers for on-demand computing?

There are three drivers. One is the increased usage of IT. The impact of downtime is greater than it was a year or two ago.

Secondly, the rapidity of change is increasing. Technology is evolving at a faster rate. Look at Linux. The rate at which enterprises are adopting it is tremendous. Three years ago few people spoke about Linux. Another technology that is rapidly evolving is wireless networking. Web services is also being increasingly used in the enterprise.

The third driver is Costs. IT departments (and CIOs) are required to justify new IT investments. When you talk of delivering IT as a service, IS managers want to know what does it cost to deliver this service.

When you deliver IT as a service you put in place a customer-vendor relationship between the IT department and the end-user. This leads to better efficiency in the IT department.

Besides saving costs what are the other benefits of on-demand computing?

IT drives the business. But business demands (on IT) are also changing. The response from the IT service providers is not as fast as the CEO or CIO would like. So delivering IT services needs to be done in a more agile way. On-demand computing enables this.

Take the example of e-commerce. During certain periods in the year (like Christmas time) the demand for products goes up. So businesses selling online need to increase its computing capacity to deal with the jump in online transactions. With on-demand computing you can detect that requirement for additional capacity, and be able to provide it instantly.

It is about giving organizations the ability to adapt its infrastructure according to the changing business environment.

Brian Pereira can be reached at

In a nutshell

What is on-demand computing?
On-demand computing means computing resources can respond to sudden increases in demand, and immediately deliver the additional capacity that's required. The idea is to make the delivery (and availability) of IT resources as rapid as that of utilities like electricity, piped gas or water.

The fundamental goals of on-demand computing are to dynamically align IT capacity with changing business priorities, while increasing the efficiency with which IT resources are used. It is about giving organizations the ability to immediately adapt its infrastructure according to the changing business environment.

What is CA's vision for Managing On-Demand Computing?
While other industry initiatives for on-demand computing concern mainly hardware resources like storage and CPU utilization, Computer Associates' vision primarily concerns Infrastructure Management. It has adapted its Unicenter management tool to deliver, what it claims, is the industry's first management platform for on-demand computing. CA believes proper management of IT infrastructure is the key to making on-demand computing a reality in the enterprise.

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