Applications (APS), Systems (SMS), and Network (NMS) Management is dominated by the evolution of the industry. Within this context the various vendors and customers play, often oblivious to the meta trends that determine the ultimate fate of their initiatives. Each decade brings with it a major shift in the context of Applications, Systems, and Network Management and with it different strategies for success. Holding on to bygone approaches and postures ensure catastrophic failure in the present. The three most recent meta trends within the industry are:

  • 1991-2000 Best Practices
  • 2001-2010 Vendors
  • 2011-2020 Virtual Services

Age of Best Practices 1991-2000

The golden years of NMS was the 1990’s. Budgets were plentiful and as a result the industry, companies, and individuals all did due diligence when it came to planning enterprise IT solutions. The Gartners and Network Worlds were also well funded, which enabled objectivity and intense research. Despite all the money and energy available for solutions, Gartner reported in 1999 that the majority of the network management solutions failed within the first three years. That all changed with the dot com crash.

Age of Vendors 2001-2010
The golden years were followed by the equivalent of the dark ages. No one was willing to pay for planning at the customer level much less the industry level. Customers would not fund Proof Of Concepts (POCs)  As a result, large vendor such as IBM, HP, and CA cobbled together hierarchies by gobbling up the smaller nitch players. Once absorbed into their respective Borgs, all innovation ground to a halt. Worse, the same polarization that has occurred on the news networks started to appear among the Gartner and Network Worlds of the day. With their funding sources drying up, these industry knowledge bases adapted by becoming increasingly biased and more shallow in their reporting. This posture fueled the rumor that the industry was a commodity market and the trend toward globalization only exasperated this delusion. Through the lens of globalization the walmart model prevailed – sell cheap commodities cheaply. The failure rates among these services spiked closer to 90%. Worse, future solutions were crowded out. Venture capitalized stayed away from a market perceived as a commodity. New companies found it impossible to enter a market dominated by towering players like IBM, HP, BMC, and CA. The one move left for these small players was to provide a subset of services for the maintenance cost of the larger vendors. Yet this funding proved insufficient to fuel innovation at the previous decade’s level. At the end of 2010, the world seemed to be a very dark place.

Age of Virtual Services 2011-2020
We are very early into the next turn of the industry. Though the lack of investment at the industry, vendor, and customer level persists, an unexpected solution has presented itself. The investment requirements to support Best of Breed were driven by the need to reinvent the same types of integration each and every time. With the coming of virtualizations at the hardware, OS, software, and service level, the need has diminished. Still perceptions from the golden age persist that slow emergence from the darkness. Gartner is still considered objective though that time has long passed. Venture capitalist are still very leery of any investment. So it is hard to tell what the future holds at this early hour. Yet the world does seem brighter and light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.

One Response to “State of the APS, SMS, and NMS Industry (Meta trends)”

  1. Dougie!!! says:


    Within the Age of Best Practices, Consulting companies were customer advocates providing Best of Breed solutions. This tended to infuriate some of the bigger wares vendors.

    Within the Age of Vendors, Consultants became product advocates leaning more to providing installation and customization around a single vendor solution suite.

    You’re dead on with the age of virtual services. Folks don’t want massive IT infrastructures and they want to pay as they go. They also desperately need the agility that Cloud brings. The big four will need massive architecture changes to adapt to this new model. And it will become painfully evident when Cloud vendors transition into Grid computing.

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