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Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, edge cloud, legacy on-premises, software defined, virtualised, you name it, somebody somewhere is having to deal with some part of this alphabet soup of technologies and consumption models. But for many large enterprises, they are actively dealing with all these and more. At Bloor we have always called the monitoring and management of the entirety of such a heterogeneous set of environments, Hybrid Infrastructure Management (HIM) to differentiate it from hybrid and multi cloud management, which as far as we are concerned are subsets of HIM.
In our love affair with all things cloud, containers and micro-services we often forget that the majority of applications in large enterprises are not cloud native and are mostly monolithic. And while efforts are underway to redesign and refactor these legacy applications, many will remain in production for some years (decades?) to come.
Many of the newer vendors in the IT Operations management space are born in the cloud, digital natives. Frankly, many of them are not interested in, or focused on providing management functionality or integration hooks for those legacy systems. Older, more established players in the IT Operations Management market, with a suite of architecturally monolithic solutions, have been trying to tack on modern AIOps and Observability functionality either organically, or more often via acquisitions. Either way, they have not made the overall experiences of IT Operations Management teams in large enterprises much easier.
Everybody likes to think that they are customer focused or customer centric, and I am sure their intentions are genuine. Unfortunately, I see too many vendors that are, in practice, product driven. So, it was a genuine delight to have a briefing recently from a vendor that is genuinely customer driven. UK hybrid-infrastructure management vendor Interlink is not new. It was formed in 1996 by people who were working “at the coal face” in IT operations departments. From day one they were working with large enterprises, primarily at first in the financial services market. These customers all had a wide range of different mainframe and distributed systems and were already struggling with aligning IT performance more closely with the requirements of the business.
The clue is in the name…Interlink. Over the past 25 years Interlink has built an IT operations management solution that enabled major enterprises to pull together all their disparate monitoring systems into a linked manager of managers. Along the way, the capabilities of the solution were developed to produce a fully featured IT operations monitoring and management solution in its own right. But, as IT, and particularly their own customers, shifted more and more towards cloud strategies and computing moved out of in-house datacentres, the volume and complexity of the data being ingested from a much wider range of sources grew very rapidly.
In 2021 Bloor published an AIOps Market Review. In that, we put Interlink very firmly in the Systems of Engagement category, which as far as we are concerned is where the genuine AIOps vendors sit. But, quietly, Interlink was already re-engineering its solution using modern DevOps methods, a microservices based architecture and a strong focus on open tooling. The result is a very flexible platform with a range of services that allow the easy integration and use different data sources and tools. It has built on its key manager of managers and visualisation strengths with clever local views for distributed development and operations teams and has enabled the mapping and correlation of critical business services to the underlying infrastructure that supports them.
Terms like Observability and AIOps have been bandied about by vendors to the point that they are losing the meaning of their original intent. Interlink have a small but very significant customer base (Nationwide Building Society, HSBC, The Met Office to name but three) that have just about every type of IT and every type of deployment model. This has enabled Interlink to work very closely, not just with more traditional IT operations functions, but also with DevOps teams, Site Reliability Engineers and Business managers. It all gives the strong feeling that when they are talking about these terms, they are doing on the basis of still being very close to the coalface.
Interlink deserves to be more widely known because there are a lot more enterprises with complex hybrid IT infrastructures that could benefit from its solution.