Renovated Art Museum Relies On IT - InformationWeek

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3/18/2005
04:13 PM
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Renovated Art Museum Relies On IT

When the Museum of Modern Art in New York launched a $858 million renovation, it included new servers, storage, networking, and wireless capabilities, and a discovery software tool from nLayers to provide a view of the facility's application infrastructure.

As the Museum of Modern Art engaged in an $858 million renovation that culminated in the reopening of its new facility in midtown Manhattan in November, its technical staff saw an opportunity to create a completely new technology infrastructure.

That technology upgrade included new servers, storage, networking, and wireless capabilities, and the CIO of MoMA wanted to ensure he'd be able to gain a level of visibility into that enterprise that would allow him to keep the museum at the forefront of technology for years to come.

"We had a clean-slate opportunity in terms of technology," says museum CIO Steve Peltzman. "There was no legacy technology involved in this effort, not even the wiring. But with this investment, we had to get the infrastructure right and have to keep maintaining it the right way. All our eggs are in that basket."

Part of the solution employed by Peltzman was to use a discovery software tool from nLayers Ltd. called InSight. The vendor on Monday is introducing InSight version 3.0, an upgrade of a product that provides users with a "big picture" view of an enterprise's application infrastructure. Version 3.0 maintains this information in a federated configuration-management database to help customers begin unifying management disciplines and operate more agile, service-oriented technology organizations, says Gili Raanan, founder, president, and chief executive of nLayers.

"Our auto-discovery engine provides the information--the real-time, on-demand, accurate information--that CIOs, chief architects, and their staffs need to make the most important decisions about the way they run their information technology," Raanan says.

Although a casual observer might not expect that a museum would be a hotbed of technology, Anthony Mills, manager of network operations for MoMA, says that in addition to handling the resources and applications necessary to coordinate more than 700 employees, the department must also run multiple education centers, videoconferencing, restaurant management, point-of-sale systems for five on-site stores, and wireless connectivity throughout the 630,000-square-ft. facility.

"This is really a new thing for the museum," Mills says. "This was really the first serious technology effort for us beyond your standard business practices, and we wanted to go best of breed in all categories, and create a data center that was double or triple redundant in all phases."

MoMA hired IBM Global Services as the main contractor on the infrastructure installation, which was completed by November. Systems installed included an IBM iSeries server, multiple ProLiant servers from Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco Systems networking equipment. Wiring for the facility was set to handle data speeds of at least 1 Gbps, with some areas served by up to 16 Gbps of bandwidth, Mills says. With the equipment in place, MoMA wanted to be able to get a full picture of the infrastructure to ensure that assumptions made about operation, throughput, application usage, and other criteria were working as planned. By using nLayers Insight, the museum was able to learn that the current infrastructure is meeting pre-designed expectations, and the overall view is allowing its technology leaders to determine changes that may occur in the coming months and years to expand the system and its capabilities, Peltzman says.

When looking for a discovery tool, he says, there were not many alternatives in the market, and nLayers provided the most nonintrusive capabilities. "The nLayers product is an agentless technology that just snapped into our network as purely a listening device that has been able to tell us that our assumptions were correct, and our design is working as planned to this point," Peltzman says.

"We now have a constantly growing picture of our infrastructure, which we can use to go back and compare with as we go forward and are faced with some of the crazy stuff that will come down the pike, like temporary exhibitions, and tons of new multimedia projects," he says.

MoMA is one of eight current customers of nLayers, which was founded in 2002. The company's discovery and mapping technology can continuously track the entire application infrastructure and illustrate demand, usage, and service levels over time, so that users can plan, manage, and optimize their IT resources, Raanan says.

"We've developed 3-D application behavioral models that include all the resources and dependencies, usage, and demands," he says. "And since we don't have any overhead on the servers, bandwidth, or network, we can continuously collect the information and provide an historical trend of any application."

Insight 3.0 includes plug-ins to a number of leading systems management products, including IBM Tivoli and HP OpenView. This enables customers to merge nLayers' tool with data gathered by the existing management tools for even greater visibility into an IT environment, Raanan says.

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