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BMC aligns itself with business service management

Sep 27, 20045 mins
Data Center

* It's 'go time' for BMC Software

Most hardware and software companies in the IT industry host an annual meeting that they both fear and look forward to: the industry analyst meeting, where executives from the host company face some of their harshest critics and best advisors.  BMC Software has just hosted such a meeting, and I’ve just returned from it.  Today I’d like to share my analyst perspective on the outlook for BMC Software in the coming year.

First let me say that, even if you aren’t a BMC customer, this story may interest you.  For the first time in a long while, BMC has a serious strategy to bring to enterprise businesses.  BMC calls it business service management, or BSM.  This is a buzz phrase that your CEO, CFO, or line-of-business executive will be uttering soon, so you’d better bone up on it.

BSM is the notion of tying business processes to the IT systems that support and enable the processes.  Then, as you monitor and manage your IT systems, you know exactly how they will impact your business processes if there is a problem.  From this you can ascertain the resources that should be applied to fix the problem.

BMC executives tell a true story that happened in their own house.  Before the company implemented BSM for itself, it still did a great job of managing the IT infrastructure.  One night there was an alert that a router was down.  Technicians went to work to find and repair the problem.  No one knew how important (or not) the router was, so the problem escalated, and a manager was awakened with a 3 a.m. page.  A service technician was dispensed to fix the errant router, which, as it turns out, was in a contractor’s house in Colorado.  And he was fast asleep, not caring about the broken router.  The moral of the story is, get to know how important your IT systems are to real business processes.

Using a BSM approach, the alert of the downed router would still come in, but it would show that the device was not critical to any major business process.  The problem could be dealt with the next day with no impact to sales, customer service, or any other mission-critical process.

So this takes us back to BMC’s new strategy presented at the analyst conference.  The whole company is betting its life on BSM.  Every employee can utter the phrase in his sleep.  Every resource is focused on making this strategy work.  And rightfully so, because BSM isn’t just about IT projects and products; it’s about IT bringing real value to an enterprise business.  This will capture the mindshare of CEOs and business executives everywhere.

There are other IT vendors that espouse their own version of BSM, of course, but there are several things about BMC’s overall strategy that I really like.

First of all, BMC’s approach to BSM starts with the IT infrastructure you have in place today and builds from there.  Since BMC is sort of like the Switzerland of the software industry (i.e., vendor-neutral and open), you don’t need to rip and replace what you already have.  You say you use HP OpenView to collect asset information?  You say you have a mainframe, a bunch of Windows servers, and you plan to install Linux?  That’s OK, because BMC has open, extensible products that will work with what you have.

Second, BMC’s approach will allow you to bite off small chunks of BSM to show immediate value to the ones who hold the purse strings.  The company calls these chunks “routes to value.”  You start with small, manageable projects that bring incremental improvements to your ability to manage business service levels.

Third, after a three-year concerted effort, BMC now has all the pieces in place to help you deliver on a complete BSM strategy.  BMC needed a few key acquisitions – such as Remedy and Marimba – and a few homegrown applications to get to this point, and now everything is in place to tie your IT processes to the business processes.

And fourth, BMC has stopped trying to go it alone and has beefed up its partners and alliances, both in sales/implementation and technology.  BSM is a business sale, not a technology sale.  Systems integration companies like Accenture and Cerner are critical to reaching the business decision makers about the value of BSM, and technology partners like EMC and Microsoft are important, too.  Watch for key announcements in this area in October.

After sitting through two days of presentations and intense one-on-one discussions with BMC executives, I’m confident the company has the solution set and the strategy to make BSM work.  As CEO Bob Beauchamp put it, “It’s ‘go time’ now.”

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