BMC's role in Cisco's Unified Computing System launch

* Cisco selects BMC to provide the management, automation technology in its purpose-built data center blade platform

BMC could consider itself lucky to be selected by Cisco to exclusively provide management technology for Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) launch, but the veteran software maker thinks more than luck is at work here. BMC says its long-term technology strategy makes BMC an ideal fit for Cisco's data center plans.

"Cisco realizes that this server, which supports virtualization in a significantly different architecture, has to be managed in a way that can see across the entire data center," says Jim Grant, BMC's senior vice president of corporate strategy and development. "BMC is platform-agnostic and just as Cisco's architecture is game-changing for the data center, our technology by being a part of it will change how data centers are managed by eliminating vast amounts of labor in the deployment, configuration, provisioning and monitoring of virtual environments."

Cisco this week is expected to unveil details around its UCS strategy that includes partners such as Microsoft, Intel, VMware and others. The technology involves Cisco-developed blade servers that would become part of an advanced architecture that incorporates network, computer, virtualization and management resources into a single system.

According to BMC, it is "in fact the only management offering being OEM’ed and shipped as part of Cisco’s UCS. Many of the other vendors involved in the announcement such as VMware and Accenture already use BMC to manage their internal IT environments, so Cisco standardizing on BMC adds to the thread tying the complete offering together."

Industry watchers say BMC's technology will be critical to the success of Cisco's UCS because without management and automation at the foundation the environment would be too complex for administrators to adequately control.

"Enterprises do not really add total capacity flexibility until servers, storage and networks are virtualized, and even more essential, are using a management control system that understands how to provision all three in concert," according to Rich Ptak, managing partner at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "Providing the missing component is what makes the BMC partnership such an important part of this announcement."

BMC says deep integrations between Cisco UCS Manager and BMC's Atrium CMDB and BladeLogic Service Automation products will feed information back to BMC's larger Business Service Management (BSM) product portfolio, delivering substantial reductions on in both operational and capital expenses, BMC says. BMC acquired BladeLogic about a year ago and has been working with Cisco to make the technology part of its platform.

"BMC is more platform agnostic than similar technologies from competitors; it can fit easily into heterogeneous environments," Ptak explains. "Customers don't have to go through any rip-and-replace scenarios, a big point with some of the competition."

In fact, Cisco's move into data center blades could strain relationships with some of BMC's top competitors: HP and IBM. Cisco also partners with the vendors, but this news puts the vendor in competition on two fronts, data center gear and software.

"Until recently Cisco never really appreciated that IT management is a set of complex, collaborative, interdependent processes which require more sophistication than their device monitoring and configuration tools. This is where BMC comes in - they've been working on management issues forever," says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "[As for competitors HP and IBM,] just as they had stopped worrying about Sun in the data center, they are faced with Cisco, and they can’t even use their knee-jerk response about not understanding heterogeneous IT systems management because BMC is tagging along for the ride."

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