BMC Ready to Serve Up a Power Play

Company's top officials look to win over providers that survive shakeout

BMC Software Inc. late last year pledged to put more development muscle into technologies for service providers. At the vendors Learning Universe user conference in Orlando, Fla., last week, BMC showed an updated version of Siteangel and shared details of Project Guardian Angel, which aims to make BMCs flagship Patrol product available to service providers for resale. BMC President and CEO Bob Beauchamp and Chief Technology Officer Kirill Tatarinov took time away from the conference floor to talk to eWeek Deputy News Editor Chris Gonsalves about the companys vision for services and what it means for the future of BMC.

eWeek: The word back in January was that BMC would begin to invest heavily in service provider technologies. Is this still an important segment for you? What are BMCs strengths in this area, and what does the future hold?

Beauchamp: Its very important to us. The last year or two has been what Id call Version 1 of the service provider business model. And many of those models were flawed. And many of those companies have gone away. That doesnt mean that the concept of using broadband capabilities to provide subscription service of applications and other services to a customer is bad.

It is my belief that the xSP [service provider] space will be very successful. I think for now, the large telcos and the large outsourcers have an advantage. Then there are certain key narrowly focused xSPs that have good opportunities. Whoever wins, I want BMC to be the company that provides them with the tools they need to manage service levels of the services they provide. We are really targeted at the top few thousand enterprises and the service provider space.

Tatarinov: It is true that with xSPs, those that werent mature, those that didnt have enough scale fell off the face of the planet. Those with the skills and the methodology to manage their environment and deliver managed service survived. Thats what we do. We give them the opportunity to manage their service, to do service-level management and use the quality of service that they deliver to their users as differentiators.

And we give them the ability to manage applications, not just hardware infrastructure. If they deliver CRM [customer relationship management] applications online, we have the technology that allows them to monitor that environment.

eWeek: BMC recently inked a deal with NTTs [Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Corp.s] IT services arm and ComWare [to deliver subscription-based Siteangel Web-testing services in Japan]. Tell me what you hope a relationship like that develops into, relative to your services plans.

Beauchamp: The issue here is that the telcos, the communications giants [such as NTT], are in exactly the right place to be successful in being service providers. For them to select us as the company that they choose to offer subscription management from is a really good indication that were on the right track.

Tatarinov: Working with service providers and working with service delivery arms of large corporations is a very important part of our strategy. If you look at this conference, youll see there is a large number of service delivery type companies. They are the mechanism for us to deliver our solution to small and midsize enterprises.

eWeek: Of course, NTT also runs one of the most successful wireless service providers in DoCoMo. Can you envision growing the relationship to include something like that? Does BMC have plans to support wireless endeavors? Are tools being developed?

Beauchamp: Yes to all of that. I think that wireless is an important platform for delivery as well as a platform that needs to be managed. There are going to be wireless services that need to be managed, just like Web services or database services need to be managed. So well not only manage them, but well also take advantage of that format for us to add mobile technology to our client components.

Its fair to say that, down the road, youll see wireless clients become a more important part of our assumption that customers are using handheld devices to use our products to manage their service.

Tatarinov: Wireless to us is part of the overall end-to-end service management. We dont see it as isolated. First, we have to manage wireless components, then bring them into the overall service management and then bring Patrol data to the wireless device. That said, weve seen very little of this so far in true production environments yet. Very few. A lot of people toying with it, a lot of people putting their toe in the water trying to see whats happening. Its been grossly overhyped, and the capabilities of wireless networks today are not ready.

eWeek: Do BMCs plans include specific support for other kinds of specialized services, such as security services?

Beauchamp: I think there is plenty of room to spread out with additional services, with additional functions being added to the services menu. Im not going to comment about whether security is in the pipeline or storage management is in the pipeline. There are other things in the pipeline, but I dont want to tip our hand yet as to whats coming.

eWeek: How important is BMCs own professional services arm?

Beauchamp: The overall mission of the services organization is to make sure that our customers and our partners are successful as they implement our solutions. Our industry has a very bad reputation for shelfware, where customers buy big promises and they buy some code and then nothing happens. Were on a war against shelfware at BMC, and I view our professional services to be a key component of differentiating us from our competitors.