Time to Virtualize Systems Management Tools? (Really?)

Time to Virtualize Systems Management Tools? (Really?)

Is it time to virtualize systems management tools -- from corporate IT out to MSPs? Before you answer check this out: Intigua has just scored $8.6 million in Series A financing, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company focuses on "virtualizing the management layer." The idea is to bring cloud-grade scalability and agility to infrastructure monitoring and management. What are the potential implications for MSPs? Here's my thesis.

I see some potential impact for monitoring tools that focus on midsize and large enterprises, corporate data centers and cloud services providers (CSPs). But I'm not sure virtualizing the management layer will filter down to the SMB market where many RMM (remote monitoring and management) software tools compete. Am I even in the ballpark with this thesis?

What Does Intigua Do?

First let's start with a little more background on Intigua. The company offers a free auditor tool that identifies all the diferent systems management tools currently installed and running on a customer's virtual machines. If customers and service providers take the next step and leverage Intigua's software, the company claims the following outcome can occur:
"By virtualizing the management layer – just as servers, storage and networks have been virtualized – Intigua transforms management applications into streaming, on-demand datacenter services that are more scalable, agile and automated."
Intigua claims there are six use cases for its software: Exceeding SLAs, gaining visibility and control, ensuring proper governance, rapidly provisioning and updating services, spanning hybrid clouds and integrating and extending services.

Simplicity Sounds Complicated to Me

Here's the irony: Virtualizing the management layer is supposed to simplify corporate IT. But I think the world of virtualizing is getting a bit overwhelming for partners and customers. Earlier this week, Juniper Networks announced its software-defined networking strategy. Cisco Systems and VMware (software-defined datacenters) have launched their own initiatives. There are so many messages in the market right now that I'm not sure whom to believe...

But back to the story at hand: Virtualizing the management layer. Apparently, Intigua's product virtualizes such management tools as Splunk, IBM Tivoli Monitoring and Provisioning Manager; HP Operations Manager and Server Automation; Microsoft Systems Center; VMware Hyperic and vCenter Configuration Manager; BMC  BladeLogic; and EMC Networker. I'm not sure if CA Technologies tools are on the list yet.

SMBs and MSPs?

I'm curious to see if or when this trend moves downstream to the SMB managed services market. Will it?

Before I answer let's consider what's already happened. In the server virtualization market, VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V are finally penetrating small businesses. And out in the public cloud, small businesses are leveraging virtualized servers without even really thinking about it. Will those trends repeat with MSP-oriented software designed for small business customers?

Near-term my answer is "no." But my views have been off the mark plenty of times. Feel free to weigh in if you've got insights to share. I could really use it on this topic.

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