Splunk and CA unite for IT troubleshooting

Splunk and Computer Associates have combined their respective IT troubleshooting software. To analysts, it's a match that makes sense and reflects a need for simplicity in increasingly complex data centers.

IT troubleshooting became a little less complex today as two leading data search applications were combined into a module designed to boost efficiency in data centers.

The module, called Splunk for Unicenter Network and Systems Management (NSM), offers a search tool from San Francisco-based Splunk Inc. integrated with the Computer Associates Inc. offering.

Splunk is best known for Spunk Professional, an IT data search engine for a global repository of log files, bug fixes and troubleshooting advice. Under the agreement, Splunk Professional has been added to CA's Unicenter NSM, which is a service designed to prioritize management, reduce costs and increase efficiencies across an entire technology stack for CA customers.

With the partnership, Splunk executives said they have expanded the scope of their own search engine now to include the ability to search an up-to-the-minute archive of Unicenter NSM events, along with any other network or system events.

The combination can improve service availability and operations efficiency by reducing the mean time to repair, said Michael Baum, the Chief Executive Splunker for Splunk.

The module will also allow existing CA customers to drill down from the Unicenter console and launch a browser interface to search for events related to the host or infrastructure device being monitored. Users can then search and navigate Unicenter NSM events with other types of IT data, including logs, configurations and database transactions.

With the module, Splunk is saying there will be a 90% increase in productivity for IT administrators beleaguered with help desk requests and infrastructure snafus, and analysts are optimistic about the company's claim.

"These two vendors' [services] are complimentary," said Dana Gardner, the founder and principal analyst of Gilford, N.H.-based Interarbor Solutions L.L.C. "This module shows that CA recognizes that there is this trove of log information available out there, but it is very difficult to manage and access," Gardner said.

The module brings about a means to index and search through various information generated by servers and gives IT the ability to search and learn from it, he said. "[IT] can actually mange the data rather than get swept away in this tidal wave of minutia and find patterns."

Jasmine Noel, founder and technology analyst with Ptak, Noel & Associates, said she was particularly impressed with the automated functionality of the module. "Instead of digging through every server in your enterprise, you open up the [module's] user interface -- much like Google – type in your error message, and the software finds it for you," she said.

So instead of taking an hour to manually find and solve IT and infrastructure problems in a data center, the module allows IT departments to search a global repository and discover the problem in five minutes, Noel said.

This kind of automated tool has become especially important in today's IT environments where new servers are often deployed or removed without the lead administrator's knowledge. Although this can lead to confusion on the user side of things, Splunk doesn't care one way or the other, Noel said.

"The neat thing about Splunk is that it searches and indexes all the data as new infrastructure gets deployed. [Splunk's] search technology automatically includes whatever has been added to the system," she said.

The Splunk for Unicenter module will officially launch this week at the Interop conference in Las Vegas. Splunk declined to give pricing specifics.

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