This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

March Madness wrapped up this week with Kentucky winning the NCAA tournament and coach John Calipari finally getting to cut down the net and get his ring. Of late, the term “One and Done” has become synonymous with Coach Calipari since so many of his players come to play for a single year and then make the jump to the NBA.

Well, this week another organization is trying to become synonymous with the term “one and done,” and that’s IT control vendor Infoblox. On Tuesday, Infoblox announced the release of its “Automation Task Board” which is designed to enable cross-function, multi-step, time-consuming tasks with a single mouse click. One and done. Additionally, since the solution simplifies complex tasks through its automation engine, the tasks can be pushed down to lower-level IT professionals, including help desk personnel, instead of always having to call that highly compensated CCIE who’s always too busy to attend to things right away.

For what used to be thought of as one of the few IPAM companies, the range of capabilities they have to automate is much broader than most people would realize and is very forward-looking. The ATB includes things like network provisioning for IPv4 and IPv6 networks, VLAN reassignment, port activation, network configuration of bare metal machines and remediation for rogue DHCP servers.

Now, the one thing that these functions have in common is they require operational support from multiple groups. Is this necessary? Absolutely. As I pointed out in my blog last week (IT Operations Needs to Evolve to Support Cloud), corporate IT departments need to adapt to move in the cloud era. Do it now or do it later, the change needs to happen. At one of the many Cisco conferences I’ve attended, (I don’t remember which), CEO John Chambers made the statement that “Cloud computing is the most network-centric computing paradigm to date.” While the statement is very self-serving for a network vendor, it’s also true. The performance of the cloud or even virtual severs depends on tight coordination between compute and network operations and that’s what Infoblox is aiming for.

As the virtualization footprint continues to grow within data centers, automation of IT tasks will become even more important as trying to coordinate tasks manually across physical/virtual boundaries while simultaneously managing task across IT silos just isn’t scalable any more. This is the reason Infoblox has been so focused on automation over the past year or so.

The press release cites some information from an EMA survey that shows over half of the responding companies don’t feel they have the right tools in place to enable cross-silo collaboration. The primary reason for this is that legacy IT management tools like OpenView, Tivoli, Unicenter and the like are frankly crap in the virtual world. They’re old and were designed for another era of computing where the focus was on managing physical IT elements that lived in isolation and not virtual ones that span multiple IT domains. This would be akin to Coach Calipari trying to use a defense that famed UCLA Coach John Wooden used in the 1970s. Time’s change and strategies must too.

I believe there’s a significant sea change about to unfold with regards to IT management in the virtual or cloud computing era. Infoblox’s ATB is a great example of an IT management tool that’s designed to provide cross-group functionality and visibility.

In addition to Infoblox, I’ve talked to a number of other smaller IT management vendors such as Xangati, Gigamon, Netscout and Riverbed (Cascade) that are also attempting to provide the necessary levels of visibility, automation and cross-IT functionality to make cloud deployments a success.

March madness, make way for management madness.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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