Product uses Google Maps to provide IT systems updates

Google Maps shows IT managers internet connections

The satellite imaging power of Google Maps is being used to give IT managers a birds-eye view of their facilities and Internet connections in a security information management product developed by start-up FireScope .

Say you have a dozen facilities spread throughout the United States. In the Google Maps component of the FireScope dashboard, you can look at a U.S. map with a marker for each facility and receive instant reporting if there is a problem with the availability, performance or security of one of those systems.

A red flashing light -- or whatever other indicator you might choose -- would notify you of a problem, and then you can click on the location to find more information about what is going wrong and to connect to programs that will resolve the problem.

Mark Lynd, president of the Los Angeles-based FireScope, was previously Global CTO at Hudson Advisors where he became frustrated by the disjointed nature of event reporting.

"We had locations all over the world," Lynd says. "I wanted a simple view to see if we were having an issue at one of our sites. ... That was the genesis of this. I was a frustrated IT operator."

FireScope launched in August and began selling its appliances in November, according to Lynd. The price range goes from US$10,000 to US$100,000, and the price includes the first year of maintenance, he says.

Lynd says FireScope has seven customers, including Telscape, a local phone exchange carrier serving the Hispanic market in California. Between San Diego and Los Angeles, Telscape has 105 co-location sites containing network management and access gateways, says Joe Holop, the company's CIO. The company also has about 18 stores and kiosks.

Holop says other mapping tools don't provide the proper linkage to system monitoring programs. With FireScope, clicking on a satellite image of a location can bring up diagrams of IT systems and feedback about the health and well-being of systems, he says. Alerts are triggered based on thresholds related to CPU, storage or bandwidth utilization.

"In our case we can bring up a map of Southern California. It's actually showing where we have our locations. Then we can point and click on particular locations and bring that up and start doing a drill-down of what's in the location," he says.

Ajax capabilities allow you to zoom in and out on locations and provide the user with real-time updates on the status of performance, availability and security.

In addition to the Google Maps function, the FireScope portal gives users a single access point for antivirus programs like those made by Symantec, or programs like HP OpenView that perform security event and incident management.

"Most companies have 12 to 15 point solutions," Lynd says. We put them in the portal for you so you no longer have to go hunt for them."

The FireScope dashboard can be configured by each user to deliver whatever content they want, from graphs of security or performance data, to lists of alerts and calendars of scheduled maintenance.

"What differentiates the FireScope tool is it's really able to correlate, assimilate and bring together data from those point solutions," Holop says.

Last month, FireScope added collaboration features to its software, including user-customizable blogs, wikis, message boards, RSS feeds, and shared bookmarks. These features were added to help organizations create an internal base of knowledge that is not interrupted by the departure of key employees.

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