It’s Time for a Netcool Replacement: Why Netcool Isn’t Cool Anymore - Evanios

It’s Time for a Netcool Replacement: Why Netcool Isn’t Cool Anymore


Considering a Netcool replacement?

Start by casting your mind back to 1989. The world was a very different place. That’s the year that Tim Berners-Lee started to work on HTTP at CERN. The web as we know it didn’t exist. The Berlin Wall came down, although the Soviet Union still had another two years to live. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the year’s highest-grossing film, and Poison topped the charts with Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

Coincidentally – or perhaps not – that’s also the year that Micromuse was founded. The company’s flagship software product, Netcool Omnibus, went on to be the leading umbrella event management tool of the 1990s and early 2000s. For the time, it was great technology – but it was designed to manage yesterday’s static IT environments. In the intervening quarter century, things have changed radically. IT no longer moves at a snail’s pace – instead, we’re launching new applications and services at a dizzying speed. The cloud, DevOps, and continuous delivery are accelerating that pace even further. In today’s environment, Netcool just doesn’t cut it.

Let’s forgive Netcool its strange anachronisms of the last century – for example, Omnibus is, at its heart, a single-threaded application – and look at why Netcool isn’t cool anymore.

Archaic Monitoring Integrations

Netcool got its start in telcos. Because of this, the company invested in integrations with telco gear. Do a search on “Netcool probes,” and you’ll find a long list of integrations with Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel – remember them? – and Huawei gear, but precious little else. Yes, there’s a probe for Patrol and another one for SCOM, but you won’t find integrations with today’s advanced IT monitoring systems. That’s symptomatic of the underinvestment in the product since IBM Tivoli acquired Micromuse in 2006.

Cloud first? Not even close. Netcool was invented to manage telco gear like this legacy switch

So, if you want to monitor a Lucent 5ESS switch – assuming you can find one – or to connect to a CORBA or 3GPP interface, then Micromuse is an option. However, if you want to manage a modern, cloud-based IT environment, you’re out of luck. Instead, look for a next-generation event management platform that delivers cross-stack visibility with out-of-the-box integrations to leading-edge monitoring vendors and cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure.

Too Much Coding

Now, let’s assume you could get the monitoring data you want into Netcool (that’s a big ‘if’). How do you do you deduplicate, filter and correlate these events to reduce noise? Scripts! If you’re familiar with Netcool Omnibus, you probably know what a rule file looks like. It’s a huge collection of code that specifies how to process incoming event data from probes. In other words, Netcool expects you to write and maintain your own event processing system.

In the old Netcool days, event correlation was based on heavily (custom) scripted rules

That may have worked in the past when we were dealing with a few different types of devices in the data center. Things didn’t change, so you didn’t need to change your rules files. Fast forward to today, however, and we’re talking an explosion of monitoring events from hundreds of different and constantly evolving applications and underlying infrastructure components. There’s no way that coding can keep up – it’s too expensive, too error-prone, and too slow. On the other hand, modern event management platforms are designed to handle rapidly evolving IT environments, using a combination of machine learning and configurable logic to automatically reduce event noise.

No Business, Operational or Historical Context

Netcool processes events – and that’s all it processes. While you can laboriously build service maps using a separate Tivoli TBSM tool, and then import these into Netcool Impact – that’s another separate product – these still only give an infrastructure view, without showing the true business impact of events or their root cause. And, while Netcool does have an event history, it doesn’t learn from this history – or from ITSM data such as incidents and changes.

On the other hand, modern event management systems don’t just look at siloed real-time event data. For example, they accurately prioritize events by looking at similar historical incidents and CMDB relationships – which can be kept up to date using automated service mapping, unlike with the manual Tivoli TBSM/Netcool Impact approach. They can also predict future events by learning from historical event patterns, and then raising alerts when these patterns recur. And, they can leverage operational data, such as planned change windows, to suppress meaningless event noise at source.

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

Of course, IBM Tivoli has tried to respond to this new generation of event management platforms. You may have heard of Netcool Operations Insight (NOI), which Tivoli is offering is offering as an “upgrade” for Netcool. While Tivoli makes claims such as, “use cognitive analytics capabilities to identify, isolate and resolve problems before they impact your business,” here’s the truth. NOI is just the same old Netcool products – Omnibus and Impact – with some IBM Analytics laid on top. That’s an old trick that we’ve seen before – bundle up some old products together, and call it something new. It isn’t, and you’re still stuck with all of the same Netcool pain.

And, what about those analytics capabilities? We’re sure there’s more to it than this, but IBM headlines with “seasonal analysis” to suppress events at particular times based on analyzing historical event patterns. What this actually means is you get a report of when events occur more frequently together, and can also generate code to group these in Omnibus. There’s no cross-stack analysis of event and ITSM data, no future event prediction, and no intelligent prioritization. And, NOI certainly doesn’t do this in real time. The result? You still don’t know the business impact or root cause, so you end up working on the wrong things – and you spend a long, long time doing it.

To find out more how Evanios can help you bring IT operations into the 21st century, talk to us about replacing your existing Netcool tools today.

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