SAP undertakes major NetWeaver overhaul

First synchronised release of all the application integration software's components in Q1 2004

SAP undertakes major NetWeaver overhaul that will result in the first synchronised release of all the application integration software's components in Q1 2004. Currently, SAP ships its various NetWeaver modules separately. For example, Master Data Management 2.0, which lets you maintain cross-platform data consistency, and XI 3.0, an app integration broker, will hit the street at different times between now and year's end. According to SAP executives speaking sotto voce, the odds are pretty good that the company will also adopt a common versioning approach so that each of NetWeaver's applications will have the same release number when the overhaul is complete.

Preventing downtime makes a heck of a lot more sense than waiting to hear from irate end users that their favourite application is on the blink. That's ostensibly why Dale Edmiston, senior manager of computer operations at Food Lion in Salisbury, NC, has CA Unicenter watching over his systems. Turns out the management framework alone wasn't enough to give him advance warning that something bad was about to happen to a critical application (though he certainly wishes it had been, so he'd have one less vendor to deal with, he says). Since Unicenter fell short, Edmiston turned to Silas Technologies in nearby Winston-Salem and its Reveille application-monitoring tool. Since installing Version 2.0, Edmiston claims he has had "saves on every application we've got monitored, and it's improved our break-to-fix time." That success ought to entice him to look closely at Reveille 2.5, which ships today. The upgrade adds its agent-free monitoring capabilities for Oracle database versions 8.1 and higher; allows more out-of-the-box reports on application service levels, such as peak-time analysis; and imports XML files for things such as on-call lists that determine which technician should be summoned for particular problems that Reveille identifies. Expect to pay $US10,000 and up for every application you want Reveille to watch over.

Silas, which is four years young, gets some of its revenue from consulting with IT shops on approaches for monitoring apps while they're still in development. That strategy would please Paul Carbone, managing partner at Baird Venture Partners in Milwaukee, the private equity arm of the venerable Robert W Baird & investment bank. "We're not looking just for technology in the companies we invest in," he says. "We like the wraparound of services in (a product) offering." So, what IT services markets does Carbone believe will grow fastest? "We like the interface between technology and regulation." The hottest regulation? "Sarbanes-Oxley offers a lot of consulting models." And while everyone seems to be in a lather about security, Carbone is lukewarm on the market potential of start-up companies in that arena. "The value of security products is still constrained by the cost," he claims. His advice to CIOs looking at products from newbie companies: Don't just look at their balance sheets, which are often intentionally kept to the bare bones. "Call the company's VCs directly." Very often, he says, they'll tell you how much they have ready to invest in the start-up over time.

One start-up that claims to have enough venture capital in the bank to last through the end of next year is Kashya, which hopes to be able to add to its cash horde starting October 1, when it ships its first product, the KBX 4000. The San Jose-based company's new appliance handles long-distance data replication over IP networks. The 1U-tall rack-mounted device is based on IBM's Linux servers but uses proprietary software to back up disk arrays according to a schedule that can be set for real-time replication to off-hours backup. You need to set up two devices for fail-over purposes on each end of the data replication process. The appliances work with low-cost ATA disk drives and have Fibre Channel connectors to connect to your storage-area network. Pricing is set according to the amount of data you back up.

Simple SANs

San Diego's JNI believes SANs should be simple, which is why its new ZStar line of host bus adapters has a Windows-style GUI, a dead-simple configuration tool and automatic performance tuning for different application types. The adapters will ship for Windows at the end of the month and for Linux by December. Street pricing should be about $US800 per port.

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