This is exceedingly frustrating, as application dependency mapping tools have become mature offerings. An application-dependency mapping tool uncovers the otherwise hidden relationships between applications and infrastructure resources. In our experience as former IT practioners, we have implemented such capabilities using a tool from Tideway Systems. Our main goal was to get a better handle on inventory management and resource relationship for a datacenter move, but we quickly realized that there were many additional benefits we could take advantage of:
- Identification of idle servers for reclamation (we were shocked at how many)
- Identification of legacy infrastructure that poses a security threat (such as Windows 95/98)
- Identification of production servers using development or test resources
- Identification of changes to an environment over time, especially useful for figuring out "what changed" for debugging purposes
In addition, the Tideway repository supports a cradle-to-grave resource management policy. What we found helpful was how Tideway logs all changes that occur to a server over time, not just the last scanning sweep. Even if a resource isn't available for an extended period of time, Tideway will unobtrusively remember its existence should it resurface, which can come in quite handy.
All this came flashing back when we heard Tideway has made a community version available for download. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that it's the full-blown version with the only limitation being 30 deep scans. The tool's ability to map out the high-level relationships and the lack of a trial expiration date makes it a really powerful and handy resource.
Tideway's bet is that once you experience the value of having this information at your fingertips, you won't want to live without it. Besides, it's high time that every IT department really understands its asset inventory.
Our suggestion is whether it is a best in class tool like Tideway or any other, firms must leverage such a capability to drive change across its IT platform.