OpTier's CoreFirst Captures Big Win

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Garnering 60 percent more votes than its closest competitor, OpTier Ltd.'s CoreFirst 1.4 product captured first place in the Network and Systems Management category of the Datamation Product of the Year 2006 awards.

Citrix Presentation Server from Citrix Systems finished a distant second, while still collecting three times more votes than third-place finisher, NSI Software Inc.'s Double-Take product.

Other finalists were Managed Object Solutions Inc.'s Business Service Configuration Manager and Availl Inc's Backup 3.0.

Making its product debut in April 2005, CoreFirst was upgraded to V1.4 this past October. OpTier's flagship product, CoreFirst lets organizations define policies to assign different levels of priority to different transactions. This approach, according to OpTier, allows companies to maintain improved, predictable and consistent quality of service, within the configuration and capabilities of their current IT infrastructure, regardless of demand.

Playing in what industry analysts consider an advanced market -- i.e. quality of service and prioritization -- OpTier achieved what their competitors could not. ''They differentiated themselves by being an innovator rather than improving on existing solutions,'' says Jean-Pierre Garbani, a vice president and analyst who focuses on systems, at Forrester Research.

In short, OpTier built a new mousetrap instead of a better one.

''CoreFirst is a new solution that provides a new approach to an existing problem,'' he adds.

Motti Tal, an executive vice president at OpTier, says the company is currently a leader in a new breed of technology that's coming to market. ''We address how managers can manage their goals of high uptime and good performance by capturing control of quality of service,'' he says.

Managing components isn't enough, says Tal. ''Organizations need to manage the business transactions delivered to the users of those systems.''

Simply stated, CoreFirst allows companies to prioritize one transaction against another within a process.

For example, within the process of an online banking application, a customer may perform a high-visibility transaction, such as requesting a money transfer or making a bill payment. A customer also may perform a change of address. CoreFirst will recognize the money transfer or bill payment transaction as a higher priority over the address change request, and favor increased quality of service for the high-priority transaction.

Dennis Drogseth, a vice president at Enterprise Management Associates, says there are three key capabilities in CoreFirst 1.4 that set it apart from other quality-of-service-type products: transaction-driven management; correlation across the infrastructure, and the ability to enable resources in real-time

''The unique capability in CoreFirst is that it manages to the transaction, which is logical if you want to prioritize management activity to the performance of a service,'' says Drogseth.

In contrast to traditional mainframe environments, which are structured, predictable and consistent, web-based applications tend to be used in a less predictable environment, according to Drogseth. ''In web-based applications, infrastructure resources and applications tend to be more complex and harder to predict. That's why the dynamic capability in CoreFirst is a good thing,'' he says.

A CTO at a subsidiary of one of the three national credit bureaus is currently midstream in implementing CoreFirst 1.4, and has the product running in a preproduction environment. The company purchased CoreFirst 1.4 to leverage a web-based credit services application that has supported more than 10 million users to date. The CTO, who asked not to be named in this story, expects to be in full production within 30 days.

''We were looking for a product that gave us better visibility and information metrics to better manage the health and performance of our environment,'' he says, noting that CoreFirst 1.4 was the only product available that fit the bill. ''The process prioritization will also allow us to get more throughput out of our existing environment.''

More specifically, he explains, CoreFirst 1.4 will provide better visibility into interactions between the credit services application and the database tier. The bottom line for the credit bureau subsidiary: better quality of service to customers and provide services as cost effectively as possible.

''Our expectation of the priority capability is that it will postpone the need to purchase additional database capacity, which we augment as we grow our business,'' says the CTO. The company currently has four four-way Oracle database servers. ''Ultimately, we'll do more with less,'' he says.

Forrester's Garbani notes that some product users have found additional benefits from CoreFirst 1.4. ''Users can find resource consumption at the transaction level, or use of system resources, which is important for chargeback,'' he says.

OpTier's current market is among Fortune 500 companies where the product is used for a variety of applications, like web portals, equity trading, human resources and retail supply chain.

In a product category where new products still provide reactive solutions, Datamation readers agree OpTier is a vendor that is paving new ground.

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