nLayers adds storage device mapping

By Ann Silverthorn

—Start-up nLayers announced the newest version of its application discovery and mapping solution this week at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. nLayers InSight 4.5 introduces storage and network discovery functions for discovering, mapping, and tracking software, servers, storage, and network devices in a comprehensive view.

nLayers InSight 4.5 is a plug-and-play appliance that discovers, maintains, and maps a company's IT infrastructure in real-time. Its passive discovery engine can discover and map large environments, which could include 50,000 servers, desktops, and storage devices, without slowing down the network. It doesn't install agents on the servers, crawl the network, or write TCP packets into the network. The appliance observes the activity on the network and reverse-engineers the interactions into an application model that displays how storage, servers, software, and network devices exist and illustrates the interdependencies between them.

nLayers InSight 4.5 addresses three main IT drivers. The first is the complexity crisis, in which costs are rising and CIOs are under pressure to optimize their IT environments. "You can't optimize your environment if you don't know what you have and how all of the devices are interdependent," says Gili Raanan, founder and CEO of nLayers. "If you decide to remove a disk attached to a server and move it to a central storage environment, you need to know what the impact of that change will be on the applications and users."

The second driver is government regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and Specter-Leahy. "There's a lot of pressure on CIOs to know the data sources and storage components that feed into financial systems and medical records. They also need to know the relevancy of regulations around each functional area," says Raanan.

The third IT driver is ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), which is a set of best practices for IT service management. About 60% of the Fortune 1000 companies are in the process of standardizing on ITIL, according to Raanan.

ITIL was founded in the UK by the British government and is gaining momentum in the US. To meet the standards, businesses must create a configuration management database (CMDB) that details all the IT resources in their organizations and how they feed into the business services of the company. Companies must populate their CMDBs and keep them current. To do so they need some type of discovery technology, such as nLayers InSight 4.5. Other vendors providing similar products include BMC Software and Mercury.

nLayers InSight 4.5 has several new features, including active discovery on top of passive discovery for native storage to provide more depth of discovery. nLayers also added Fingerprint Factory, a user interface with which users can add their own "fingerprint" of custom applications. Discovery products rely on a comprehensive knowledge base of known applications, which do not include those that the company has written on their own for specific business needs.

Pricing for nLayers InSight 4.5 is based on the number of nodes, defined as any device, server, or desktop with an IP address. The appliance costs $75 per node and is served in blocks of 1,000 nodes.

This article was originally published on December 06, 2005