Article

Configuration management tool tracks change at Wachovia

Megan Santosus
In the data center environment, keeping tabs on change can be a monumental challenge for a company like Wachovia Corp.. The Charlotte, N.C.-based financial services company has locations in 21 states, 780 retail brokerage offices and 110,000 employees.

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With an infrastructure comprising tens of thousands of servers in an industry that relies heavily on IT, Wachovia needs to manage data center changes effectively on a daily basis.

For more on configuration and change management:
Reining in change with CMDBs

CMDB software evades data center managers

Server configuration tools ease downtime
Recently, Wachovia was among a group of customers of IT automation provider Tideway Systems that participated in the beta testing of Foundation 7.0, an IT automation tool designed to model and track business applications as they run in a data center and over time in an effort to understand configuration changes. (Foundation 7.0 became generally available on Oct. 29.) According to a former Wachovia IT professional who helped evaluate various application dependency technologies, Foundation 7.0 was the best fit for Wachovia.

"We went with Tideway for a number of reasons," said the former Wachovia employee, who also examined products from EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Symantec.

The Tideway product doesn't overwrite configuration data but just updates it.
A former IT practitioner,
Wachovia Corp.

One of these reasons concerned Foundation 7.0's revamped reasoning engine that enables IT departments to model business applications as they run in a data center and track configuration changes over time. Wachovia runs a highly virtualized grid computing environment with hardware on VMware and applications on DataSynapse Inc. "We change the application footprint around a lot, and since [applications] don't have dedicated ties to physical pieces of the infrastructure, a big thing for us is to understand and track an application as it's moved around," the IT practitioner said.

A no-framework approach
And at Wachovia, moving applications is a daily occurrence. Such changes are made based on factors like workload, time of day and the like. With its Data Provenance feature, Foundation 7.0 can essentially provide a chain of evidence for application configuration items over time. "The Tideway product doesn't overwrite configuration data but just updates it, something that's important in a virtualized environment," said the former IT exec. "That wasn't the case with other software packages we looked at."

In addition to application tracking, Wachovia needs to survey the individual software components in its service-oriented architecture-based (SOA) environment. "It's important to have a tool that can measure component reuse consistency," he said. "If you don't have any governance, developers can take components and change them slightly to meet their needs, which makes it difficult to promote reuse."

Wachovia also appreciated Tideway's business model. "Tideway isn't pushing companies to sign up for an entire framework like the other vendors do," the exec said.

Wachovia isn't unique in its aversion to frameworks. In the market for application dependency mapping and related tools such as inventory, discovery and configuration management databases (CMDBs), companies want a Lego-like interoperability, according to Dennis Drogseth, vice president at Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "Companies have very complicated requirements, and they like to mix and match tools from vendors," he said.

Still, companies face major challenges in how best to implement application changes while also minimizing costs. The discipline of IT Service Management, or ITSM, has motivated companies to acquire IT automation tools to facilitate application changes. "The overall market for [IT process automation] tools is growing," Drogseth said, as companies strive "to understand the relationship of services to infrastructure."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Megan Santosus, Features Writer .


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