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BMC shares how it is aligning its IT infrastructure to its business

Jul 12, 20046 mins
Data Center

* BMC discusses its business service management experiences

The “next big wave” in IT is sure to be managing and running your IT infrastructure from a business perspective.  Whether you call it business service management, business technology optimization or business alignment – the practice is heating up.  Don’t be surprised to learn that your CIO is already looking into it.

As Denise Dubie pointed out in her Network Optimization newsletter (see first ‘related editorial’ link below) a recent Yankee Group survey of 175 IT executives shows that aligning IT with the enterprise business strategy is a high priority.

BMC Software is one of the major IT vendors selling a tool set and strategy to help its clients align IT infrastructure with business needs.  BMC is likely to be very successful in this area, not just because it has a very good product offering, but because the company speaks from the heart when it talks about BSM.  You see, BMC’s IT department has already gone through its own business alignment process.  When BMC executives talk about how to undertake a BSM project, they aren’t talking just from an IT product perspective; they are talking from experience.

I recently talked with Atwell Williams, director of IT Enterprise Service Management at BMC Software.  Williams is responsible for overseeing all aspects of IT service delivery and support.  His mission is to ensure that internal service levels are managed in alignment with business objectives.

Like any other IT executive in a large enterprise, Williams was faced with a few key drivers that led him to direct the BSM project.  “We started this about two years ago,” says Williams.  “At the time, we didn’t know to call it business service management.  We just knew we had to get our IT functions to align more closely with our business needs.  Although our IT department was very good at managing infrastructure ‘events,’ we couldn’t be sure that what we monitored and managed truly mattered most to the business.”

In addition, Williams’ department had to function with reduced staff and budget, while ensuring regulatory compliance with Sarbanes Oxley and providing for business continuity/disaster recovery.  “Even though BMC is a technology company, we are no different in our IT issues than any other large organization,” Williams says.

Williams is very frank when he talks about BMC’s foray into BSM.  He’s not afraid to tell customers what his team did wrong, as well as what they did right.  “We learned some valuable lessons in our experience, and we like to share them with other companies embarking on their own BSM projects,” he says.

BMC brought in Accenture consultants to build the business process model.  According to Williams, “We went down about three levels into the business model. For instance, one of our key business processes is to provide customer service.  Driving down a level, we offer Web-based customer support.  Drilling down once more, we offer self-service software downloads.”  Williams says they didn’t try to do any business process reengineering; they just wanted to define their processes. In all, BMC came up with 54 critical business process areas to monitor and report on.

Next came the process of prioritizing all the defined business processes.  “At first we asked the business managers to set the priorities,” Williams says.  “You can guess what happened – everything was ‘top priority.’  So we asked [BMC President and CEO] Bob Beauchamp to make the call on priorities.  He did, and he said customer service is No.1.”

While Accenture was out canvassing the company on business processes, the IT department started modeling the IT systems.  “We did this out of order,” admits Williams.  “I would recommend waiting until all the business systems are identified before assessing the IT systems.  We ended up modeling systems that weren’t our top priorities.  We could have saved some effort here.”

The next step is where technology entered the picture.  All the IT and business assets were entered into BMC’s Remedy Asset Management tool.  (BMC had just acquired Remedy, making the timing very fortuitous for Williams’ team.)  Asset Management holds the configuration database.  “Not all of the items in this database are tangible items,” Williams says.  “We list our business processes as assets, too.”

The company deployed Remedy Change Management to manage all the changes to the configuration database.  BMC says that, by automating this process, the company was able to eliminate a weekly meeting involving about 35 people, saving $350,000 a year in staffing costs and productivity.

BMC Event Manager is the event console that receives the events from all of the BMC Patrol monitors deployed throughout the enterprise.

These events then flow to BMC Impact Manager, which leverages information in the configuration database to determine the impact of an IT event on the business.  Now a business manager can tell if his critical processes are affected by server xyz being down.  What’s more, the IT department knows and understands the priority of taking care of one problem over another because of the business impact.

All of this information flows into Remedy Help Desk, which serves as the single point of contact for interfacing with BMC’s internal customers.

“This is still a work in progress,” Williams says.  “We feel like we are blazing trails because few companies have done this before.” 

Obviously, BMC has the advantage of having all the IT tools at its disposal.  But Williams asserts that the tools account for only 25% or 30% of the effort.  “The real heavy lifting,” he says, “is in the IT process and organizational changes necessary to make effective use of the business-aligned service model.”

As a product company, BMC continues to benefit from its own BSM project.  Williams says that his IT department is now seen as a valuable case study for BMC’s R&D group.  “We give them input for new or improved products,” he says.  And, his team helps customers by leveraging the knowledge they gained during their own BSM experience.

Many companies are willing to sell you a BSM solution; BMC is willing to share its own practical experience with you.

Linda Musthaler is vice president of Currid & Company.  You can write to her at