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Systems management news in brief: Splunk, Cfengine and Nimsoft updated

Systems management vendors Splunk, Cfengine and Nimsoft recently rolled out new tools for data center administrators.

Systems management tool vendors Splunk, Cfengine and Nimsoft all launched updates recently.

Splunk 4.1 features real-time search capabilities
Version 4.1 of Splunk's popular IT administrator tool now includes the ability to search and generate dashboards from Splunk data in real time.

Systems administrators use Splunk to search and analyze IT systems' huge amount of data and apply the data to monitor and troubleshoot problems in the data center.

With its new real-time functionality, Splunk users can now monitor security issues and IT performance with live streaming data. The new feature allows systems administrators to search and view Splunk data before it's indexed. By removing that step in the search process, users get immediate visibility.

Other new features include the following:

  • single sign-on (SSO) capability;
  • the ability to drill down into data to determine root causes more rapidly; and
  • the ability to schedule PDF report delivery of any Splunk data dashboard.

Last year, Splunk essentially reengineered the product from the ground up to make it faster and more scalable in version 4.0.

Steve Litras, a systems architect at Autodesk Inc., has used Splunk for three and a half years to monitor application performance and online transactions on Autodesk's systems.

Autodesk jumped onto Splunk version 4.0 right away, and Litras said it was a major change and much improved. He is also a beta user for 4.1; while he hadn't used the real-time feature during the beta trial, he has begun to test it now.

"I see some value in it for things like security monitoring, seeing events as they happen," Litras said. "The features that I am really excited about in 4.1 are the drill-down capabilities and the PDF report generation."

Cfengine: Unix-Linux management tool gets native Windows update
Open source Unix and Linux stalwart server configuration management tool Cfengine now has native capabilities to manage Windows-based servers.

Cfengine Nova version 1.1 now includes integration with file system security, system registry, event viewer and Windows management services.

In 2009, Cfengine President Bob Whirley said that when Cfengine released its commercial product, the company polled users on which features to include in the next release: Native Cfengine capabilities in a Windows environment was the No. 1 request.

"It's a native port," Whirley said. "We integrate with Active Directory, PowerShell, and we've integrated with ESX Server. We can build, deploy, manage configuration, and do audit and compliance with PCI and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] templates."

According to Whirley, high-profile companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Advanced Micro Devices Inc, and eBay Inc., have been running the open source version, and he has worked on converting large companies to the commercial adoption.

Created in 1993 by Mark Burgess at Oslo University, Cfengine sprouted a commercial support company in 2008. In 2009, Cfengine's creators launched a commercial product Cfengine Nova.

Nimsoft jumps into the IT management software via SaaS model

Recently purchased by CA, Nimsoft just announced it would start offering IT management Software as a Service. Nimsoft joins a slew of companies that now deliver systems management functionality via the Web.

SaaS-based systems management tools are attractive because they place the burden of software installs and upgrades back on the vendor. The model also allows IT shops to pay for tools as a recurring operating expense rather than be compelled to tap tight capital budgets.

The offering is called Nimsoft on Demand and is available today.

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