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BMC is serious about business service management

Jun 09, 20035 mins
Data Center

* BMC takes acquisitions into business service management strategy

BMC detailed its Business Service Management strategy in early April, a strategy to which its recent acquisitions of Remedy and IT Masters are critical. Then at BMC’s annual analyst event in late May, it became clear that BSM is a lot more than a passing thought.

BMC in March acquired IT Masters and its MasterCell software, which targets automated event management with strong capabilities for modeling infrastructure components to match business services. This followed the acquisition of Remedy in November, whose software has service desk, problem management and asset management capabilities.

Business Service Management has become a unifying vision across the entire BMC portfolio – which includes mainframe management, database management and distributed management across applications, systems and networks.

There are good reasons to believe BMC can deliver on this vision, and do so in a unique and compelling way. I am more than willing to state this now, although when I went to the event, I had some serious concerns about integration, automation and ease of use across a complex and potentially unwieldy portfolio of products.

Another concern, perhaps less well addressed at the conference, was the lack of a fully evolved network management vision. Here the term “vision” is important, because BMC’s acquisition of Perform SA two years ago brought it two products (Visualis and Dashboard) that are rich in capabilities for autodiscovery (including discovery of virtual LAN service paths), performance, optimization and some event management.

Though BMC is eloquent, when pressed, in characterizing the strengths of its network management products, what BMC has so far not done is articulate a fully fleshed-out vision for managing a network as an integrated part of an application service – through its own products and through partners – from LAN to WAN to wireless.

Now having said that – let’s get down to why BMC has a credible play at creating something that the world seems to be clamoring for – a truly next-generation “unframework.”

Perhaps the single most outstanding strength, if BMC fully capitalizes on it – is the fact that Remedy and MasterCell (now called “Service Impact Manager”) are already designed to support a wide variety of other management vendor products.

Remedy is of course ubiquitous, and MasterCell arrived with support for Tivoli, OpenView, Unicenter, Peregrine ServiceCenter, as well as products from Remedy and BMC. Collectively, these powerful integrations suggest far more than a tactical move to enter new accounts. Along with BMC’s clear and stated commitments for multi-vendor integration, and its focus on service management as a unifying direction, the integrations suggest that BMC might deliver on an entirely new animal for which the market currently doesn’t have a name.

This animal would be a cluster of applications, larger than the term “suite” would suggest – designed to integrate and leverage users’ current tools and effectively make them better. A sort of strategic center of management gravity with powerful arms and legs for integration.

This is, I believe, what IT really needs – and BMC has a chance to cash in on Remedy and IT Masters, along with its broader portfolio, to become the first clear exemplar.

BMC also has other strong arrows in its BSM quiver, some truly distinctive:

* BMC stresses its depth across mainframe, database, and distributed application infrastructure as a clear advantage (“end-to-end”). This is true, but depending on how your define “end to end” – and every vendor does so in a way convenient to itself – there are a number of other candidates here. The real advantage in my mind is that it’s “end to end” with powerful integration hooks into the rest of the world.

* When BMC agents are used, BMC can “fix” and “tune” the infrastructure rather than just monitoring it. This is clearly a broad corporate direction and reflects another important commitment.

* BMC has solid capabilities to bring the help desk and the operations center together.

* BMC has asset management and performance management – which, when combined with more automated and adaptive autodiscovery (as in Visualis), bode well for capturing what Enterprise Management Associates believes is one of the fastest growing markets, “asset performance” or “business resource management.” This means managing assets as contributors to the delivery of business services, rather than just as “dead metal” that amortizes over time. If BMC is wiling to go the distance on this opportunity, this could include “vendor scorecards” on brand investments – from routers, to servers, to outsourced services (e.g. WAN connectivity or Web hosting).

* BMC has a foundation for role-based management with IT Masters, and is committed to developing role-based visualization and access to services.

To be sure, truly capitalizing on these advantages will require a long, hard-fought journey for BMC. And BMC products, though modular, are true enterprise-level investments – with the network management capabilities starting at $60,000 and many other deployments from other products costing much more. But service management requires making an investment – one that should pay for itself many times over. So, given its strengths, both current and potential, BMC is well worth watching for enterprise IT organizations seriously looking to take control of their “business services.”