Volume 8, Number 21 -- May 27, 2008

Paglo Aims to be the Google of IT Management

Corrected: May 27, 2008

by Alex Woodie

Paglo today started the public beta of its new hosted IT management offering that's designed to help IT professionals do their jobs more efficiently by employing the Web's original breakthrough technology--search--to cross organizational boundaries to solve common IT problems. With a simple Web-based GUI, a blend of commercial open source and SaaS business models, and a successful private beta, Paglo just might live up to its billing as the Google of IT management.

The premise of Paglo is quiet simple, according to Brian de Haaff, chief executive officer of the company, which is based in Palo Alto, California. Namely, it aims to shatter the traditional molds for systems management applications, and be the first tool that IT professionals go to when something breaks.

"If you look at the IT management space today, it's a splintered market. It's incredibly fractured," de Haaff says. "In each area, whether it's asset management or network or change management, you have a group of vendors that address the specific challenge related to each one of those areas. But what you find when you step back, in each one of the systems, there's a lot of useful information about the IT environment that can be used to solve many problems. But because the applications were built with a specific set of problems in mind, you can't solve other related problems that are outside that immediate domain."

Paglo has three components: a crawler, a search index, and a Web 2.0-style user interface. Once downloaded, the crawler automatically discovers all servers, devices, and applications living on a network. It has the capability to go through firewalls and "find things that don't necessarily want to be found," according to Paglo CTO Chris Waters.

Once it has cataloged the network environment, the crawler starts sending information to Paglo's index server, using an encrypted Internet connection. Paglo houses a separate search index for each customer on its collection of Linux servers. Customers can then perform keyword searches and utilize other Paglo goodies--such as the inventory management application, pre-built dashboards, alerts, pre-defined searches, and other "ShareIT" applications created by the open source community--from the comfort of a Web browser.

So, what can people do with Paglo? According to de Haaff, any and all firefighting-related tasks, which he says account for upwards of 70 percent of the average IT manager's daily activities.

"It can tell you anything from how many copies of Microsoft Office do I have, do I have any NETGEAR attached to the infrastructure, how much bandwidth am I consuming, how much disk space do I have on key servers, and so on," he says. "The reason we can do that is because we collect everything about the IT environment--everything that comes off the computers, the servers, the network equipment, and everything about users through the user directory--to give people an easy way to access information that they need."

But where Paglo really shines is in using the power of search to cross domains and provide fast answers to critical questions about the source of problems. This is "IT Firefighting 201."

CTO Waters provides a good example of Paglo's domain-jumping capabilities. Say a system administrator in a company with 1,000 users needs to figure out how a certain user's computer is connected to the network to prevent a newly discovered software vulnerability from becoming a security exposure. The administrator can first perform a search to find the computers with the vulnerable application. Then the administrator can pull up a search that's already been pre-defined (or "search for a search" as Paglo calls it) that correlates effected computers with their users. Finally, the administrator can do a search that correlates a user ID with a MAC address to exactly locate the user's vulnerable computer in the infrastructure.

While it may sound simple, the administrator just moved across several different domains--software, users, computers, and network information--that usually are managed by separate systems management tools. "Traditionally to do this sort of thing, the administrator would have had to look at three different systems," Waters says. "The beauty of Paglo is, because we take all the IT data, and we give you search and freeform query capability, you can quickly move across IT domains if you need to answer questions. And when you try to fight fires, answering questions quickly is very important."

Users can interact with Paglo using the same search techniques that any Google user has grown accustomed to using, which enables users with little training to start using the tool. More advanced users can create custom scripts using PQL, or Paglo Query Language. It's through PQL that Paglo hopes the user community will develop support for the more esoteric and proprietary systems, such as IBM Power Systems servers and mainframes. Although Paglo's crawler will discover the existence of any device, including AS/400s and mainframes, on a customer's network, the rich information will only be extracted from the more mainstream systems, such as Windows, Linux, and Unix/BSD systems using Paglo out-of-the-box (or off-the-Net, as the SaaS case may be).

Paglo has been in private beta for the last few months, where about 750 companies have used it to manage 70,000 devices. Today marks the beginning of the public beta, enabling anybody to give Paglo a whirl. The public beta will last at least through the end of the summer, according to de Haaff. After that, access to the more advanced capabilities of Paglo (such as the inventory management application) will be sold on a monthly subscription basis. Pricing has not yet been determined. The company intends to keep the basic Paglo service available free of charge, de Haaff says.

To join the public Paglo trial, check out the company's Web site at www.paglo.com.

This article has been corrected. Paglo launched its public beta on Tuesday, May 27, not on Monday, May 26 as originally reported. IT Jungle regrets the error.

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