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EMC’s Smarts unit on Oct. 2 will bring greater insight into the impact of infrastructure problems on applications and services when it introduces the next major release of its EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager software.

The new release begins to integrate with its Smarts root-cause analysis software the application dependency discovery and mapping technology EMC acquired with nLayers three months ago.

To read more about EMC’s acquisition of nLayers, click here.

The integration allows fast problem correlation across storage, network and application environments to provide a cross-domain view of problems. It can help reduce the amount of errors, failures or outages that occur as a result of configuration changes. Specifically, EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager 5.0 integrates with EMC Smarts Service Assurance Manager and EMC Smarts Storage Insight for Availability.

“We discover the application and infrastructure and how they relate together, and we can automatically populate that into Smarts [products], so users can understand what applications are impacted and what services are degraded when there is a problem,” said Bob Quillan, product marketing manager for EMC, in San Jose, Calif.

Even more key is the ability to get a centralized, enterprise-level view across multiple data centers. “They now have a distributed collector and aggregator that does reconciliation of the data. Before those, they were limited to one data center. Now its applicability and scalability is much greater,” said industry analyst Jean Pierre Garbani at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

The new ADM Aggregator includes a data reconciliation engine that determines what configuration and relationship data is more reliable by prioritizing the data, and it de-duplicates redundant information. That is the “tricky part,” according to Quillan. “[Windows Management Interface data] might be a better information source than Telnet. We have a set of heuristics on what is more reliable,” he said.

ADM, which discovers applications and their dependencies by watching traffic and discerning patterns of interaction between application components, also adds a much deeper level of understanding of J2EE applications.

With the new high-definition discovery and dependency mapping, “you can see what modules are installed, what the core components of an Enterprise JavaBean are, the application files that make up Java elements, and you can get inside configuration files to understand how Java applications are configured,” said Quillan.

At the same time, ADM 5.0 provides deeper insight into the configuration and dependencies of Oracle and WebLogic application instances.

EMC Smarts also refined the tool’s configuration management database capabilities, bringing new reconciliation across different data sources and bringing that data into a federated view. A new software developer’s kit with new application program interfaces allows integration with third-party CMDBs.

Customers at Thomson Financial use it to track configuration changes and what the dependencies are between components, according to Jonah Kowall, director of enterprise tools architecture in Boston.

“It’s really given us visibility into areas where we don’t have the people who initially designed something or where we have a lack of expertise on an environment,” Kowall said. Before we had to talk to all these people and slowly discover what an environment is. When you put a product in place like this, you the have facts. It takes the guesswork and art out of trying to figure out what your environment is.”

Kowall believes it ensures that configuration changes have their intended effect without unintended consequences.
The tool competes with the Mercury Interactive Application Mapping offering that HP acquired with the company earlier this year as well as with the dependency and discovery mapping tool IBM acquired with Collation.

Version 5.0 is available now, and it starts at $50,000.

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