Opinion: CIOs protect IT from lawyers

With Oblicore Guarantee ESP, shipping today, IT managers can get extra insurance that their organizations are complying with the nitty-gritty details of service-level agreements.

According to Hal Steger, vice president of worldwide marketing at Oblicore in Columbia, by using the SLA Language of Modeling, or Slalom, a contract's blizzard of prose is rendered into easy-to-define, programmable service-level objects (SLO) that are then linked to specific IT operations. Users get a slick dashboard view of the state of SLA compliance. If something appears out of whack, you click on a problem area and discover how severe the penalty will be for blowing the SLA. Because the software integrates with tools like Tivoli and Unicenter, you can discover the source of the operational problem of any SLO in jeopardy. Depending on how precarious your SLA is, Oblicore could keep you off many a slippery slope. Pricing starts at US$175,000.

Disk Defragger Strikes Chord with Gibson Guitar

John Kindt, senior network engineer at the famous Nashville guitar maker, says he has installed the latest version of PerfectDisk, disk defragmentation software from Raxco Software on his Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange systems for 1,500 users spread across the globe. Prior to PerfectDisk, Kindt used Microsoft's tools to trim the number of file fragments, but he still suffered performance problems, especially with e-mail, which he calls "our most important app."

He says the defragging tool solved the performance problem caused by files strewn hither and yon. He also appreciates the advanced scheduling features of PerfectDisk, which he says he didn't find in other products. Raxco CEO Bob Nolan points out that everyday use of software disperses file fragments across a disk, but PerfectDisk creates a logical view of file locations for the file system, which greatly improves disk performance. He says applications like Lotus Notes, digital video and CAD applications are particularly susceptible to file fragmentation. Kindt says the tool's user interface is "functional" but could be improved, which Nolan says will happen with the next release in Q4. Before volume discounts, per-server pricing for PerfectDisk 6.0 starts at US$249; it's US$44 for PCs.

Map Web Services Dependencies

Map Web Services Dependencies is to create a view like the London Underground of your Web services application world. That's what you'll be able to do when Web services management tool AmberPoint 4.3 ships in August, claims vice president of marketing Ed Horst at California based AmberPoint. The upgrade will automatically discover all the Web services on your network, where they're located and what other Web services they depend on. You'll get a full-color, graphical view that indicates the links between the services and the amount of traffic flowing among them. Shifts in color will show trouble spots, and you can click on icons to drill down on problem areas. Also, next month AmberPoint Express will be shipped to beta users of Microsoft's VisualStudio 2005.

Pay-as-You-Go Software Coming On

Pay-as-You-Go Software is coming on strong and fast, according to a survey of 310 CIOs, CFOs and line-of-business executives conducted by Saugatuck Technology Inc. in Westport, Conn. Analyst Mike West says that regardless of whether you call it on-demand, utility computing or the ASP subscription model, "C-level executives are very familiar with pay-as-you-go software." Furthermore, they like the idea and are adopting it at a faster-than-expected rate for such a radical shift in procurement. The motivation? "There are three reasons," West says. "Money, money and money. No one likes to make the big gulp in costs upfront in buying software."

Eclipse Upgrade

The Eclipse upgrade eases rich-client development for Java programmers. The first release of the open-source development framework from the Eclipse Foundation in Ottawa since it became independent of IBM will appear by the end of the month. It will include significant improvements for Java developers, targeting their applications for Windows, Mac OS X and other rich clients, says Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. Instead of emulating the operating environments, developers will have "the true platform" at their fingertips, he says. Moreover, Eclipse 3.0 will spruce up organization of the thousands of plug-ins now available to coders.

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