If anybody is still wondering whether two of the biggest buzzwords of recent years, specifically IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and service-oriented architecture (SOA), are mere fads or ideas worth investing in, three recent acquisition announcements should remove any doubt. Far from being a flash in the pan, the industry is gearing up for the next generation of management products that turn the theory of these two ideologies into a foundation for a multidimensional view of the enterprise.Traditional management tools are vertical solutions designed to manage devices or point products, such as databases. As technology evolves into distributed and network-centric computing, it becomes increasingly important to add horizontal visibility to management tools as well. ITIL emphasizes service-level management (SLM) and many vendors have translated that into business service management (BSM), a collective view of the performance of infrastructure and applications underlying a business service. In this approach, the configuration management database (CMDB) acts as a repository, not just for physical assets, but also for mappings of business services to underlying infrastructure.SOA implementations add complexity to the BSM mix because they abstract a service from the infrastructure where it is running, making the mapping of the business service to underlying infrastructure for management purposes a slippery slope. Three recent acquisitions demonstrate that CA, IBM and Mercury Interactive are gearing up to manage these complexities.On Nov. 16, IBM announced the acquisition of Collation, maker of Confignia, a product that has the capacity to automatically discover both applications and their associated devices, and to map these relationships into a CDMB. The capability to provide intelligent insight not only into infrastructure, but also into the applications flowing through it, is key to the management of large, complex and diverse enterprises.Next, on Jan. 5, CA announced its acquisition of Wily Technology. Although the Wily product line does not have the deep application mapping functionality of Collation, Wily does provide visibility into application performance. This decision indicates that CA is elevating its enterprise management product focus from simple device management to transactions and business-services as well.Finally, on Jan. 9, Mercury announced its acquisition of Systinet. Mercury's focus has traditionally been on applications, and with its business technology optimization (BTO) offering it already has the capability to map applications and their underlying device dependencies into a CMDB. Systinet is squarely focused on SOA, with a leading Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) registry product, and solutions providing SOA governance and lifecycle management. The implications of this acquisition are that the two product sets, once integrated, should be able to provide strong management support for SOA implementations.While the financial details of IBM's acquisition of Collation were undisclosed, the CA and Mercury deals together totaled almost a half-billion dollars. These kinds of investments on the part of major vendors demonstrate that they are serious about providing foundation capabilities for managing complex enterprise services, and they are raising the bar for other vendors to follow suit. Stay tuned for more acquisitions in the months to come.