Dan's Take

Change-Centric, Blended Analytics

Evolven believes it has a better way to analyze your infrastructure, going beyond the mere detection of symptoms.

Sasha Gilenson, CEO and co-founder of Evolven, stopped by to demonstrate the company's tools. Here's a quick take on the impressive demonstration:

  • Evolven offers "change centric, blended analytics." This means that once the system has learned from examining the systems, their operational logs and the current state, it's then possible to apply machine learning/analytics to evaluate changes made to the environment.
  • Gilenson believes that many of the competitive tools merely detect symptoms created by changes, but don't really consider data points such as when the changes were made, what was changed, who changed things and so on. Gilenson believes that a better approach is to combine domain knowledge of the most popular operating systems, application frameworks, database engines and other key components along with a careful examination of operational data.
  • Busy IT administrators need actionable guidance, not just lists of symptoms. This, of course, requires that the tools understand the impact of configuration changes. Just presenting the fact that something changed really isn't enough.
  • The ideal tool (Evolven believes that its tool falls into this category) must collect and understand detailed configuration data, including information on servers (both physical and virtual); networks and networking equipment; storage and SANs; and in-depth data on each application, application component and database. Information on each component is critical for understanding the impact of configuration changes.

Evolven's goal is to provide significant value out of the box without requiring IT administrators to do much more than just install the product and "let it go". Once the tool has learned about the environment, it must immediately go to work detecting and analyzing changes made by installing software, software updates or configuration changes made manually or automatically.

Furthermore, Evolven can collect operational information from a number of analytical tools, such as Splunk or Dynatrace, and use that data as part of its overall analysis. The tool looked easy to use and easy to understand.

Dan's Take: Unintended Consequences
I've spoken with Evolven before (see my post on the Kusnetzky Group Web site for more information about that conversation). Evolven's view is that most of an enterprise's configuration and change management problems can be traced IT's organization into separate silos, and this certainly makes sense.  Most, if not all, of my conversations with CIOs and VPs of IT have turned up a segmented internal structure; many of the issues we've discussed can be attributed to too many cooks stirring too many pots.

It's reasonable to believe that many of today's operational issues can be related to what appeared to be minor changes made to support one application or application component that produced unintended consequences, ranging from application performance problems to complete outages.

While each enterprise needs to select its own management tools, Evolven is worth learning about.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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