Integration, ITILv3 and IBM's IT service management strategy

* Big Blue focuses on a broad IT service management strategy

IBM Tivoli remains one of the leading management software makers though lately Big Blue has been doing less incremental product announcements and more deep work on a broad IT service management strategy.

IBM -- like top competitors BMC, CA and HP -- developed or bought management technology for nearly every customer pain point, yet until recently Big Blue and others didn't realize customers don't want one tool for every problem: they need an integrated, process-oriented approach to streamlining network and systems operations and optimizing application performance. And as enterprise companies work toward aligning business process with IT operations and begin to adopt best practice frameworks such as ITIL, IBM is also updating its strategy to IT service management.

Forrester Research Senior Analyst Evelyn Hubbert this year took a look at IBM's IT service management strategy and noted a few areas in which Big Blue is evolving its approach and better equipping customers to mature their IT organizations.

"The company has significantly changed its approach from a solution provider with multiple products that solve specific problems to a more holistic approach of managing the lifecycle of a service that depends on a variety of components, but with focus on the service rather than on system and technology components," writes Hubbert and other analyst in a January Forrester report.

The report calls out three areas in particular that IBM is addressing. To start, IBM is looking at governance and risk management, Forrester says. Because customer environments are faced with growing complexity and diverse applications and systems, standardization is difficult to achieve. Forrester says the governance model Big Blue is putting in place will "force consistent value delivery and systematic risk management of the entire IT portfolio" for its customers.

Next IBM has been doing the hard work of integration, Hubbert reports. The company has broadened its process automation capabilities to enable workflows to work across IT silos, for instance. Big Blue has also developed its configuration management database (CMDB) to enable data and management information to be shared among IT groups, and IBM Tivoli's reporting tools have been equipped to detail data in both business and IT languages, Forrester says.

Lastly, IBM is putting to use its expertise in another technology area for the purposes of IT service management. Hubbert explains that IBM takes the reuse principles of SOA and applies them to its service management platform. Yet IBM still has work to do. Because the company has so much to offer, it will need to learn how to tailor its tools to IT organizations of varying maturity levels and adoption practices, Forrester says.

"The challenge for IBM will be to address the different maturity levels with its solution portfolio and not overwhelm those that are not yet in a service delivery culture. The conversations and communications cannot be around technology and technology additions," the report reads. "The discussions should be on how both IT and the business can move toward a service culture focusing on people, processes, and adopting supporting technology pieces.”

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