Why Big Blue bought more IT management technology

IBM picks up network configuration and automation vendor Intelliden, as Dell separately acquires systems management player Kace.

IBM acquires network automation, configuration capabilities and Dell brings more systems management technology in-house.

IT management technologies continue to draw interest from vendors known in part for their own expertise in monitoring and controlling systems and from other hardware makers that might be looking to further expand their products into the management realm. Industry watchers have been speculating that the drive to acquire management capabilities is a byproduct of trends such as virtualization and cloud computing, and regardless of the motivation, IBM and Dell recently added to their respective management arsenals.

IBM acquires Intelliden to boost network automation

Dell acquires systems management vendor Kace

IBM this week acquired network change and configuration management vendor Intelliden, a move that would give Big Blue the power to track changes made to network devices supporting, say, cloud computing environments, and automatically ensure the changes would not negatively impact the environment. While IBM picked up significant network management capabilities with its Micromuse acquisition, more recent technology developments are driving the need for granular discovery and control of network elements. Competitors in recent years also went shopping for such capabilities. For instance, BMC acquired Emprisa Networks, HP acquired Opsware (which had previously purchased Rendition Networks) and EMC picked up network change and configuration management player Voyence.

IBM pointed to the adoption of virtualization and cloud-based services as part of the reasoning behind acquiring automation technology focused specifically on network change and configuration management. And industry watchers have been beating the automation drum as interest in cloud services grew during the economic recession.

“Technologies like virtualization and cloud computing are driving the demand for advanced automation and service-level management capabilities because environments using both internal and external computing change the way management software must work,” said Andi Mann, vice president of research at Enterprise Management Associates in a previous Network World interview. “Management software needs to be aware of its environment and now it must be able to adapt to manage applications and services in these hybrid on-premise/cloud computing environments.”

And while some of these computing paradigms seem further and further away from the network, industry watchers say without control over the foundation these loftier technology goals will not succeed.

“The future of IT and enhanced competitive advantage requires social interactions and greater collaboration and that is why the importance of the network continues to grow,” said Mark McDonald, group vice president and head of research, Gartner Executive Programs, in a previous Network World interview. “Even though revenue was down in 2009, CIOs reported that transaction volumes and communications requirements continued to grow, making it imperative to focus on network technologies.”

Separately, Dell also this month grew its management technology offerings with the acquisition of systems management vendor Kace. While several management software makers are adapting their products to fit a software-as-a-service, or SaaS, model, Dell’s purchase will add licensed products to the company’s existing subscription services. For instance, the acquisition will provide Dell with KBOX appliances from Kace as well as its managed services, some of which the company acquired with desktop management vendor Everdream.

“Kace will continue to be offered as on-premises solutions and complement the services we already offer customers that prefer pay-as-you-go options,” said Paulette Altmaier, a vice president at Dell on a press conference call regarding the acquisition.

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