As we look at complex enterprise deployments we tend to use a hub and spoke model. The core application is at the center, like the database product, and the spokes are the CRM, SFA, Security, Performance and Availability tools and focused applications. Often it isn’t really clear where we are going and we buy the parts nearly irrespective of what came before and learn through the wonders of trial and error integration.
I was talking to BMC’s Bill Berutti the other day, mostly to get a sense of what is going on in BMC now that they are private and why he joined the company. Things are going well, by the way, and after talk to the board, CEO, and other executive staff he joined because he could see both the potential and how to fix the problems. An excellent practice.
But one other thing he said kind of in passing – he runs BMC’s Performance and Availability unit – was what if you made Performance and Availability the hub and built out from there?
This actually seemed like an interesting idea so let’s explore it this week.
Why You Hub
Unless you decide to buy from a vertically integrated vendor like Oracle, and sometimes even if you do, one of the big painful problems you’ll face is integration. Particularly with point products from small firms, it is far easier to specify that the product work with some core offering than it is to figure out how to get it to work after the fact.
A Hub concept also helps you focus on what is important – if you hub off the database you are acknowledging that is the most important part of the overall effort and the database is a common hub. Oracle exists as a powerful company because their database becomes the anchor around which everything else is built and as long as “everything else” interoperates with the database you typically can get it all to work together.
You don’t just see this in the back office either. For instance when I first started covering high technology I covered CAD/CAM. And in that workstation market everything, including all of the hardware, hubs off the CAD/CAM offering. Before you buy anything in that segment you check to make sure it is on the CAD/CAM Vendor’s approved list, otherwise support becomes a nightmare.
What if You Made Performance and Availability the Hub?
This was the big question I asked while talking to Bill Berutti the other day. What if you took BMC’s, or another firm’s Performance and Availability offering and used it as the hub? Basically you started with this offering and, much like the CAD/CAM vendor above, asked them which components worked best with it and chose the related products that way. In the end wouldn’t you have the most reliable/available solution possible?
Think about it: you’d optimize around whatever you believed to be the best Performance and Availability product and the end result should be the highest performance and greatest availability. And how is IT typically measured as a unit – is it measured on the quality of the individual tools or is it measured on Performance and Availability?
The end result, assuming you picked the right Performance and Availability product, should be an industry leading metric that would directly relate to how the overall company, and the CEO, felt about your organization.
Wrapping Up: Maybe
Now most of us don’t have the ability to start over with a different component at the center of our IT world. But we could shift emphasis over time and at least share the discussion between vendors, gradually raising the importance of integrating with our chosen Performance and Availability product over time. And over the course of a few software cycles we should find the end result is a far more reliable and more widely praised solution.
Something to noodle on as we work our way through what hopefully won’t be an overly dramatic IT summer.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.