Operations Center provides several out of the box integrations (Adapters) to third party products. Depending upon the product, the integration is very tightly written to the third party API, utilizes publish/subscribe to minimize network traffic (IE: does not poll), bi-directional (can receive alarm details but also allow operator actions from NOC such as closing an alarm) and several other things such as a topology if one exists in the third party product. These adapters are available to the administrator to point and click and configure and start using quickly.
Routinely we come across solutions written by the customer such as a home-grown Help Desk system or an application that pings devices on a routine basis or even a third party product that we do not have an out of the box adapter for it. For these situations, we have standard options to pull the data in. Be advised, the data is not always management data, some times it is customer details, application details, etc.
Below I will provide a quick overview of the options our teams use to integrate to third party products when an out of the box adapter is not available. Also, what works for one customer may not work for another, for instance, a database may be available but the customer would prefer for us to use a REST interface to integrate the data. Also, "integrate" is a big word, sometimes the requirements push us to setting up a custom right-click to launch the native console or an iFrame type of integration into the dashboard or maybe just an automation to open a ticket when a service goes critical/red. Lastly, sometimes the third party product is already integrated with another tool, (IE: the tool is issuing SNMP traps to their SNMP manager), in this case, there usually is nothing more for us to do than integrate with the SNMP manager. For those situation where they want to pull the data into Operations Center and it is not available from another tool, here are the options:
Data Integrator: This integration option provides an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that provides a GUI for an administrator to define an integration into a database (IE: Sybase, SQL, Oracle, etc). The administrator has the ability to define a topology, a way to create elements (IE: devices), store properites on the element (IE: IP Address, MAC Address, etc), alarms, relationships (IE: server1.netiq.com communicates via HTTP to server2.netiq.com), even mechanisms to reference external performance data. Data Integration definitions, once built can be reused on any Operations Center server, even a completely different customer. These definitions are typical built in hours and days, maybe a week or two if large and complicated.
Event Manager (AKA: Event Integrator): This is a seperate process running that is an event manager (ie: Think Netcool or T/EC). It is able to monitor log files, receive ASCII streams, SOAP and several other options. The solution provides a rule system that allows noise events to be dropped, correlated, even automatically closing of previously opened alarms (IE: Down event closed by an Up event). Configuring an input source (IE: log files) is typically hours and worse cases, days of effort.
F/X Adapter: This adapter is geared towards consuming XML files from third party products. The administrator updates configuration files to instruct the adapter how to consume the data (IE: how to create objects/elements/devices as well as alarms). Configuring the F/X Adapter to consume an XML file is typically hours and days depending upon the complexity.
Universal Adapter (AKA: Script Adapter): This adapter is designed to listen on a TCP port and process a pre-formatted text stream into elements/alarms. For this solution the adminstrator is building a java script that is launched when the adapter is started, or writing an external script, perl, java, C, etc application to integrate with the third party product and pull data. Depending upon the integration options (IE: java script, C, Webservices, etc), the effort to build this type of solution is days to weeks, might even be a month or two if the third party products API is complex. Many times this is a week or two.
SNMP Integrator: This solution provides a SNMP Polling capability. For specific technologies or applications this integration option polls specific MIB values on a routine basis to understand health and availability. The process starts by importing a MIB (if required, several provided out of the box), setting up a topology (declare how you want the data organized under the adapter) and then setting up the polling (IE: what MIB value to poll, how often, define good/bad results). This one is harder to estimate effort, a few customers use it to poll only a few things and use their existing SNMP tool for the bulk of the monitoring (then just use one of our other adapters to pull the data in). It takes minutes to set up and several more minutes to make it start pulling data from a single data source. There are some "discovery" capabilities, but this is not a full fledge discovery tool. This is ideal for filling some monitoring gaps (IE: polling a VPN device for active sessions or an application for exceptions/errors) that are not easily filled with other existing third party products due to political or technical barriers.
As you can see, when you come across a third party product that Operations Center does not have an out of the box adapter for it, there are several options to integrate with it. I would say that the most popular integration option with our customers is the Data Integrator (direct to database) followed by Event Manager (log files, ASCII feeds, etc), after that it would be the Universal Adapter where the customer slings their own code to "integrate". Lastly, the other populate "integrate" option is via a right-click, automation or iframing type of solution into the Dashboard.
Kick the tires, give them a try, expand the inputs into Operations Center and increase the value the solution is providing to your organization.
Jul 18 2012, 02:26 PM