Jonah Kowall

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jonah Kowall
Research Vice President
2 years with Gartner
18 years IT industry

Jonah Kowall is a research Vice President in Gartner's IT Operations Research group. He focuses on application performance monitoring (APM), event correlation and analysis (ECA), network management systems (NMS), network performance management (NPM), network configuration and change management (NCCM), and general system and infrastructure monitoring technologies. Read Full Bio

Contribution : Cool Vendors in IT Operations Management

by Jonah Kowall  |  April 15, 2014  |  2 Comments

In addition to the Unified Communications coverage I also participated in research around IT Operations management software. I contributed a write-up of a small innovative Boston area company Centerity, who provides unified monitoring technology. The simplicity and focus of organizations to simplify and reduce the cost of availability monitoring is core to the offering, with some more advanced features and interesting collection technology for breadth of coverage (including technologies such as SAP HANA and CCMS).  Centerity provides a robust product, with flexibility leveraging multiple types of data acquisition including the popular open source Nagios plugin (or check) compatibility.

Ronni Colville and Milind Govekar included the German company Arago, I have spent time with them as well, and am very impressed what they are doing in bringing automation and analytics together in order to learn the behaviors and actions of sysadmins. This differentiated approach makes a lot of sense, and customers have indicated positive results, but as with all automation work is required up front.

Ronni Colville and Milind Govekar also included Innovise a UK based automation company with a programmable and robust library meant to break down the silos of automation commonly observed within enterprises today. Innovative features include cost measurement and efficiency measurement of the automation tasks, and analytics integration with a custom developed complex event processing (CEP) engine.

Ian Head and Jeff Brooks highlighted Navvia for their service management offering with good workflow tools to model and run IT processes.

Finally Jarod Greene and Ronni Colville highlighted Vistara who offers a SaaS based unified platform covering configuration management, patch management, remote system access, and basic features including orchestration and monitoring. The product has a single user interface and views of the associated components.

Of course my brief writeups don’t touch on the depth of the research, including challenges and target persona who should evaluate these technologies as part of a IT Operations Management software strategy. Sorry the in depth research is for our subscribers:

http://www.gartner.com/document/2706920

 Don’t worry we are hard at work to deliver the Cool Vendors in APM this year, we expect that to hit shortly.

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Category: Analytics Big Data DevOps IT Operations Monitoring SaaS     Tags:

Cool Vendors in Unified Communications – Monitoring Angle

by Jonah Kowall  |  April 13, 2014  |  3 Comments

This year I was privileged to include one of the cool vendors in unified communications research this year. Written with my colleagues Jay Lassman, Bern Elliot, Steve Blood, and Sorell Slaymaker. Who cover unified communications technologies, the fun part about my coverage is everything needs to be monitored, so I was able to contribute to this research. I highlighted Nectar Services Corp. The other vendors included were Acano offering interesting collaboration technologies, Voxer offering innovative peer to peer communications, and Zoom offering conferencing services. The range of technologies covered in this research include monitoring, and several interesting communications options.

Nectar is an interesting company who acquired technology of a previous cool vendor Netsocket and combined it with other  monitoring offerings they previously sold. This combined offering uniquely handles both availability monitoring of vendor agnostic communications systems (such as popular systems from Cisco, Microsoft, and Avaya) but combines capabilities of performance monitoring by looking not only at packet data for measuring the true end user experience, but also visualizing and building network path data by peering with other routers within the customer deployment. Additional depth and insights on this technology provider can be obtained by Gartner subscribers in the published research:

http://www.gartner.com/document/2704317

 

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Category: IT Operations Monitoring NPM     Tags:

Monitoring Technology Pick: Week of April 7th – Elasticsearch

by Jonah Kowall  |  April 13, 2014  |  4 Comments

Continuing the blogs topics from last week we are profiling yet another log search and index technology which has begun to emerge as yet another alternative for this necessary technology when troubleshooting today’s complex environments. As the vendor we profiles last week, which utilizes several open source technologies and brings a unique user interface and ingest model the vendor this week leverages much of the same technologies.

Elasticsearch

 http://www.elasticsearch.com/ Los Altos, California

Elasticsearch has recently raised a good amount of venture funding to propel open source index and search into the enterprise spotlight. Elasticsearch is the company behind the ELK stack, with a growing set of use cases and products being built upon it. The stack consists of the following open source projects:

  • Elasticsearch is a distributed indexing and storage technology written in Java, the project is designed to scale out with modular systems sharing data storage, indexing, and search responsibilities. The project is complex to setup, maintain, and tune accordingly.
  • Logstash is the data ingest layer, messages are parsed off the hosts or a centralized logging infrastructure and forwarded into the Elasticsearch cluster (or other technologies). Logstash has a complex configuration file with many options for tuning the forwarder and configuring the parsing. The project is based on Java and can have a much larger memory footprint on the hosts than competing forwarder technologies.
  • Kibana is a graphical front end for querying Elasticsearch housed data and deriving insight (think of it as the UI). Kibana has a nice modern UI, but lacks much of the alerting, and administration needed for enterprise log indexing.

The company itself, ElasticSearch is run by a combination of technologists and entrepreneurs. Important technical members include co-founder Shay Banon, the creator of Elasticsearch. Simon Willnauer and Uri Boness who are core members of the Apache Lucene team, another highly visible Java indexing open source project. They have hired Jordan Sissel the creator of Logstash, as well as Rashid Khan the creator of the Kibana project. Matched with the marketing skill of Jen Grant who was a critical member at Box during the rise to enterprise adoption, and has had similar success at Google previously. These products will begin evolving much more quickly with a commercial entity driving the development, and solid marketing and positioning behind them. The first product released was marvel, a commercial management platform for ElasticSearch clusters. This new offering include administrative capabilities such as monitoring, root cause analysis, capacity planning, and is a paid offering, but it’s free for development use. With these innovations the product suite will evolve considerably more quickly and become a commercial alternative to other indexing and search technologies. We expect the company to begin launching commercial products later this year, and be thrust into the spotlight.

Next week, we will be highlighting yet another player in the log index and search market, before moving on to other interesting emerging technologies.

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Category: Analytics Big Data IT Operations Logfile Monitoring OLM Pick of The Week     Tags:

Monitoring Technology Pick: Week of March 31st – Torch (GrayLog2)

by Jonah Kowall  |  April 4, 2014  |  4 Comments

I’m trying out something new for the blog this week, we have our yearly “Cool Vendor” awards, which are essentially analyst picks of interesting new technologies. I’m trying to build a micro format of this where I pick an interesting technology which I discovered during a specific week and write up a vendor or interesting news of the week. This is really an experiment :

Torch (GrayLog2)

Hamburg, Germany http://graylog2.org/http://www.torch.sh/

Torch maintains and controls the GrayLog2 open source unstructured text indexing and search project, what makes the solution interesting is that it’s completely free. They have done some serious redevelopment of the former product (developed as a side project between 2009-2010), spurred by venture capital funding (in late 2013) they now have full time engineering on the project. The results have been impressive, with a nice user interface, and rapid development the project has come a long way in a few short months. The offering is built to index log data, and provides a rich front end for searching and analytics.  The re-engineering effort moved from Rails to Java, providing a highly scalable architecture with common technologies to the other open source projects under the hood.

The underpinnings include what is known at the ELK stack… More on this in future posts. Essentially ElasticSearch is an open source unstructured text indexing engine with a high degree of parallel scalability, the speed of this engine is due to parsing before ingest, while most other products parse after ingest. The second component is Logstash which is often used to get data into ElasticSearch, GrayLog2 has it’s own GELF format, which provides a much cleaner way of data ingest, but LogStash is also supported (I wouldn’t recommend that project due to configuration complexity and lack of deduplication and proper compression). Finally Kibana is the last component of the ELK stack, which GrayLog2 doesn’t use. I will go into other similar emerging solutions in future posts.

The product still takes some work to get up and running (I set it up in my lab), which they are working on, since it requires several open source projects be configured. The requirements include setting up ElasticSearch, MongoDB, and Java 7. The front-end components are a different package from the back-end components, so there are a lot of moving parts and dependencies involved. The management of ElasticSearch can be difficult especially at scale, and the project must be improved to simplify implementation and maintenance of the technology stack.

Other differentiators are the stream processing engine within GrayLog2, which enables message routing to ensure real-time actions be taken as well as indexing via LogStash. Torch doesn’t offer any paid products yet, but they are building some add-on offerings for the core engine to monetise the work they are doing. There is no SaaS offering planned, the software is designed to me implemented on premise. Currently Torch is being approached by large enterprises who have unique requirements, and they are meeting those requirements in a consulting arrangement. We look forward to tracking them as they build new technologies and bring them to market.

Lots of good stuff happening in the log analysis space, I’ll likely cover another one next week.

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Category: IT Operations Monitoring OLM Pick of The Week Uncategorized     Tags:

List : Choice Browser Plugins for Firefox / Chrome

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 24, 2014  |  3 Comments

I’m going to dig into how I use browsers and what extensions of choice are for various reasons. My primary browser is Chrome, which I use the Canary builds. Here is my current extension list, I’m not going to link each one, but provide a sentence about them:

  1. Adblock Plus 1.7.4 – Need to have ad block
  2. Bananatag for Gmail 2.2.13 – Sometimes I like to track opening on my emails, this is a great free tool providing 5 email tags per day. I probably use 5 a month.
  3. Buffer 2.3.33 – My “queue” for sharing nuggets on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook
  4. Disconnect 5.17.0 – Yet another security and blocking extension which allows control over social media tracking.
  5. Feedly 18.2 – My RSS reader, I use the beta as well.
  6. Google Translate 1.2.5 – I know this is built into Chrome, but the extension allows for better control as I read non-english websites.
  7. Google Voice (by Google) 2.4.4 – This extension isn’t the best, but it’s functional allowing for basic control of my Google Voice content
  8. Honey 2.0.5.3 – Helps find coupons when checking out, I can’t help myself, I like a good deal.
  9. LastPass: Free Password Manager 3.1.1 – Current password manager of choice, I do use a yubikey and Google Authenticator with it. I also use Google Authenticator with many other sites/services for 2 factor authorization.
  10. Lazarus: Form Recovery 3.0.5 – Saves me every so often by keeping my form entries when the browser or website fails to work properly.
  11. MightyText – SMS Text Messaging from Computer 11.0 – Great app to send and receive SMS from android phone on any other device (for me a tablet, and any browser). This extension does notifications and single sign on.
  12. Pocket (formerly Read It Later) 1.6.0 – See something cool on any device? Put it in your pocket for later.
  13. PriceBlink 4.0.2 – Finds lower prices on items, as I said I love a good deal
  14. Secure Shell 0.8.26 – Great Chrome SSH client, with Chrome sync your setting persist across devices!
  15. SkyInc (Weather) 1.6.0 – Cool weather app and notification.

Firefox:

  1. AdBlock Plus – See above
  2. Feedly – See above
  3. Lazaurus – See above
  4. Tab Mix Plus - Great tab control such as mouseover, I wish there was a Chrome API for doing the same thing

I keep firefox as backup with minimal extensions. I also use Tor Browser Bundle which works on a flash drive and provides access to the Tor network for anonymous browsing. If you want to learn more about how Tor works.

Please leave questions or comments here or on Twitter @jkowall

 

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The State of APM in 2014 – Prepare for a Changing and Volatile Market

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 18, 2014  |  3 Comments

Due to the delays in our APM Magic Quadrant in 2013, we ended up publishing the research roughly 4 months late, hence we felt it was critical to get an additional note out which catches up with trends and movement we will see through 2014. The note goes into details around the market fragmentation, SMB adoption, analytics (ITOA), SaaS delivery, and mobile APM. We also provide commentary on the big-4 management vendors (BMC, CA Technologies, HP, and IBM) and their continuing difficulty in addressing the APM market demands. Acquisitions are one way this will change, and we discuss recent acquisitions by Idera, Smartbear, and Riverbed.

Subscribers can find the research here:

Prepare for a Changing and Volatile APM Market in 2014 – http://www.gartner.com/document/2681916

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Category: Analytics APM Big Data IT Operations Mobile Monitoring     Tags:

Use Performance Monitoring to Improve Microsoft Lync Quality

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 18, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

Bern Elliot and I published a research note focused on Lync availability and performance monitoring. The growth and popularity of this unified communications technology has been swift. Upon hearing a constant voice on client inquiry, clients are often dealing with expanding scope and prominence of Lync within their enterprises. This prompted us to address client questions and concerns within our research. Lync often begins with IM and presence, which have a minimal impact on infrastructure, but the capabilities often expand to screen sharing, document and file sharing, and eventually to voice. Cutting edge clients implement video conferencing as well. These other communication methods have several attributes which are challenging from a management perspective:

  • Sensitivity to network latency
  • High user expectation
  • Expanding use cases, resulting in more reliance on the technology
  • Mobile workforces using Lync within the enterprise and as they roam

The way to fix these issues in by doing proper pre-deployment testing, and selecting and applying proper monitoring providing awareness of issues, and minimally the ability to diagnose user issues. Some of this can be accomplished with primary monitoring tool capabilities, but sometimes the use of specialist vendor technologies is essential. This note focuses on providing not only the best practices in monitoring, but also pre-deployment assessment of Lync readiness. We go into detail covering vendors offering these solutions. The vendors covered include Microsoft of course, but 3rd party vendors such as CA Technologies, Integrated Research, Nectar Services, NetIQ, Unify squared, and NetScout Systems.

Clients can access this document here:

Use Performance Monitoring to Improve Microsoft Lync Quality – http://www.gartner.com/document/2682117

Please feel free to leave comments or start a discussion on Twitter @jkowall

 

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Category: IT Operations Mobile Monitoring NPM SaaS     Tags:

Alpha Club – The need to be on the cutting edge of technology?

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 16, 2014  |  5 Comments

I was reading the great post by @Aneel (http://aneelism.com/blog/2014/3/8/fantasy-founder-beta-club.html) we miss you over here buddy. I’ve got a “problem” with pre-release software, meaning I always need to be ahead of what’s available so I spend a lot of time testing software for my daily use, and for my work as a Gartner analyst. Most analysts at Gartner don’t have a lab and don’t code. I personally do both of these things, I feel it’s important to keep my skills sharp, if not, re-sharpening them is next to impossible at the pace technology moves today. I’m working on an app for Glass right now, and otherwise I’ve been writing a bit of server side JavaScript on node.js, just because I find the technology interesting.

Back to the main point of this topic, I’ll go into my computing environments and what kind of alpha/beta code I run:

Mobile

I’m an Android guy, and really love the design and the open nature of the Nexus devices by google (link). I use both a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 daily. I keep an iPhone for backup in case… (bad code, breaking devices, etc).

  • Custom ROM – Currently I’m running OmniROM on both devices, but I also like Cyanogenmod, and have been known to switch when something cool comes out. My devices run nightly build code (this is alpha) and I normally update them about twice a month with a new build.
  • Custom code – I’ve made some changes to the OS packages and run customized libraries and apks for other purposes (I might be a bit of a hacker…)
  • Mobile Apps I use all the time (which are in beta)
    • Chrome beta
    • Firefox Aurora – This is the nightly channel for Firefox
    • Twitter beta
    • Waze beta
    • GalleryNext beta
    • Plex Beta – See more below
    • The rest of my code is far too tested

Desktop/Laptop

  • I’m a Windows 8.1 fan personally, I know everyone hates it, but I think the core OS, speed, and stability are excellent. I don’t use a lot of Windows style apps (a few are cool, but they need to be better integrated into the desktop environment… yes I know it’s coming), I use more traditional apps today.
  • Chrome Canary – I run the newest Chrome builds for my daily use, and when they break I’ll switch to Firefox, or if need be IE. I still believe IE is a good browser, and often works for things which other browsers don’t work. This is normally a larger issue because of all the beta code I run. I’m not going to go into my extension picks for each browser, but I run quite a number of them. If there is interest let me know, and I’ll update this post.
  • Firefox Aurora – Nightly builds of firefox, I use this browser in a secured manner normally, and it’s my backup
  • Plex Beta – This is such as awesome app, I bought the lifetime subscription. You install a server on your PC (where I keep my media) you then install it on mobile devices (Android and iOS) and you can easily cache or stream content. This is a godsend when stuck on a 6 hour flight, as I am often… actually as I write this. They build apps for Roku, Samsung Smart TVs (which I use), and many other device types.
  • Dropbox Beta – I’m normally running the newest code, might as well test for them :)

I’ll update this list as I go, I’m always testing something new, but few things make it into my “must have” list.

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New Magic Quadrant : Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 9, 2014  |  9 Comments

After a very long process going back over a year as we began to formulate this new market segment and research around the network performance space. Colin Fletcher, Vivek Bhalla, and myself have published two notes around this new market, leading up to this  Magic Quadrant. This is the first release of the research, we felt it was critical to get this out before software defined networking (SDN) and other elements of network function virtualization (NFV) make network monitoring and diagnostics even more complex than they are today.

“At an estimated $1 billion, the NPMD market is a fast-growing segment of the larger network management space ($1.8 billion in 2012), and overlaps slightly with aspects of the application performance monitoring (APM) space ($2 billion in 2012).”

More info on the changes network professionals are grappling with and how the current generation of NPM tools falls short:

“however, these efforts have typically been hampered by technology limitations and isolated implementation. This approach, while delivering moderately satisfactory results for many years, has proven inadequate in the face of several key shifts, including:

  • Rising demand for network services and end-user expectations of their quality
  • Growing appreciation of the network as a critical component of IT services and as an agnostic, trusted source of cross-domain availability and performance data
  • Exponential growth in application and infrastructure dynamism and complexity

Each of these shifts has pressured network teams to rethink their tooling strategy, so that they can get the visibility they need to truly monitor and troubleshoot the performance of their network resources in the context of the applications and services they support.”

We highlight solutions from AppNeta, CA Technologies, Corvil, Fluke Networks, Genie Networks, HP, Infovista, JSDU (via Network Instruments acquisition), Lancope, NetScout Systems, Niksun, Orsyp, Paessler, Riverbed, and SevOne.

The inclusion criteria for this research include technical and business execution hurdles as outlined in our criteria document.

The new research (sorry subscribers only) is available here:

Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics

 

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Category: Analytics Big Data IT Operations NPB NPM NPMD SaaS     Tags:

The Three Topologies in Applications and Infrastructure

by Jonah Kowall  |  March 9, 2014  |  7 Comments

We recently published some new research explaining how various topologies are used among different parts of IT organizations. Separate tooling and use cases provide this visibility today. Here are summaries of these three viewpoints:

Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tooling allows for the view from within the application since these tools reside within the application itself. Similarly Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) tools look at the result of the application execution as it traverses the network. These are the two most typical tools providing topologies but there is yet a third topology which is underserved. Application-Aware Infrastructure Performance Monitoring tools are similar to server monitoring tools (typically an agent), but they combine aspects of server monitoring with network monitoring allowing for a more complete picture of the topology of the application as it interacts with other elements on the network.  Over time we expect AA-IPM tooling to blend together with both server monitoring and APM capabilities making this a feature versus a separate set of offerings as they are today.

 

In the research (sorry, subscribers only) we cover these capabilities in depth, including the tooling which can help such as the offerings from AppEnsure, AppFirst, BlueStripe Software, Boundary, Correlsense, Neebula, ExtraHop, Inetco, and Virtual Instruments.

How to Leverage Application-Aware Infrastructure Performance Monitoring to Simplify Root Cause Analysis

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Category: Analytics APM IT Operations Monitoring NPM SaaS     Tags: