IBM's stealth work on application management

* IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager (ITCAM) product set gets consolidated

Being a multibillion-dollar company, IBM distributes its fair share of news around technology, services and strategy, but some of the product gems don't always make it into Big Blue's headlines.

Last week at the Pulse Conference in Orlando the vendor discussed work it had completed around its IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager (ITCAM) product set, which Big Blue first revealed in 2005. The software manages application performance and SOA environments for transaction response times across applications, servers and middleware. IBM included updates to ITCAM in a press release briefly detailing several product upgrades across its service management software portfolio, and the ITCAM release stood out to one industry watcher.

Industry watchers reveal IBM quietly announced earlier this month to consolidate its ITCAM line from several products down to three: ITCAM for Applications, ITCAM for Microsoft and ITCAM for SOA. According to Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates, she was impressed that the software has been updated to include discovery, impact management, relationship mapping and configuration management database capabilities to some degree. This shows IBM understands it needs to integrate functionalities across its software as well as introduce high-level features at a competitive price to operations teams."IBM is putting more than monitoring in the product, which is a deal for application managers with a small budget," Noel says. Listening to IBM's higher-level presentations, it's clear the vendor values integration among its own product set, and this portfolio is an example of that.

"IBM is giving customers features integrated into ITCAM that could be considered a starter pack of capabilities for other products. Operations teams can use the product and be able to show value to management as to why they might want to buy, say, a full CMDB going forward," Noel says.

The ITCAM updates are also priced more competitively per managed server, according to Noel (she could not specify exact pricing), and could help IBM better compete against CA's Wily application management technology and Microsoft products in this area. The integration work IBM has done, Noel says, could enable customers to better manage applications using less resources.

"IBM spent the last couple of years integrating all these capabilities quietly so now they can actually provide the functionality to customers. And customers won't need to use and eight-way server to load all this software up and get results," Noel says. "The product set is much friendlier to customer environments, including virtual ones."

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