eWEEK Q&A: BMC CEO Ayman Sayed

Ayman Sayed of BMC Software | eSPEAKS with Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger, editor of eWEEK, interviews Ayman Sayed, President and CEO of BMC Software. They discuss BMC Software, automation, and much more!

eWEEK Q&A: Ayman Sayed, CEO of BMC Software since 2019, is a man who's seen a complete evolution in the IT business over a period of decades. His company connects dots on the internet and in data centers that few people have to think about.

eWEEK last interviewed Ayman Sayed in 2018, when he was Chief Product Officer at CA Technologies. Previous to that, he ran Cisco Systems’ biggest businesses for a span of 17 years. He's now been CEO of BMC Software since 2019 and is a man who's seen a complete evolution in the IT business over a period of decades. This interview was conducted in November 2020.

Q: Could you give us a high-level description of your goals at BMC?

A: BMC does a lot of different things and it's one of those companies that's not necessarily front and center for people in general, because what it does is, you know, supply the backbone for a lot of what's happening on the internet and in different enterprise systems. And I would like to think that it's like the skeleton of a body; you can't stand up if you don't have bones!

BMC supplies enterprise and infrastructure software to solve some of the most difficult challenges for our customers. We supply much of the systems of record as well as mission-critical systems and systems of engagement to many global customers. We are in 84% of the top 100 global accounts that serve businesses from different industry domains--from financial services banking to manufacturing retail media, you name it. 

All of these customers are racing to reinvent their businesses as software-driven businesses. They are morphing to use technology, and we work with them to help them accomplish this. We've been in business for over 40 years, and we've been very fortunate to have many of the world-class leading companies as our customers, and we continue to work with them on reinventing the businesses.

Q: Forty years--that's nothing to sneeze at in this business. Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent product, the Helix control; it's a SaaS workflow application, kind of an orchestrator. How does that work, and is that something similar to what Kubernetes does?

A: It's slightly different. At BMC, we support our customers in many businesses, and enterprise use cases that span automation service management, infrastructure management and monitoring, remediation, and predictive analytics and data. We offer our solutions in every platform, from mobile all the way to mainframe. 

One of these solutions is in the area of automation--that's business-process automation workflow automation, managed file transfers, all the way to the role that automation and intelligent automation play in the line of business; whether it’s about supporting business workflows or IT workflows. We have an industry- leading solution called Control M, and the new announcement is on a SaaS version of this; a cloud offering for controlling automation software; this has been in existence for a while. It touches many aspects of our lives on a daily basis, whether you're going to withdraw money from an ATM machine or submitting a request for provisioning in a business, invariably that triggers a workflow automation, or a process automation and background. 

But the interesting and exciting part is that the applications for hyper-automation now are spanning every part of the business--of how a business runs. We show examples of customers using it, how to run their business, how to automate, how to speed up the decision-making process and drive more accuracy and productivity. So we're very excited about the reception from the market to this new SaaS offering and the use cases it can support.

Q: What's your definition of hyper-automation as opposed to automation?

A: Great question, and maybe I'll take a step back and share with you. Last year, we spent a lot of time looking at enterprise software and how companies, large and small from different industry domains, would evolve in the use of technology over time. And our focus is to look at the customer's unmet needs, the key challenges--not only that they face today, but that they will run into three years from now, five years from now. 

We refer to this collective body of work as Enterprise 2025; it's our vision of what's gonna enable business to succeed, based on the user's technology. And we've defined an archetype for that called the autonomous digital enterprise. It's a state for a business when it leverages technology to reinvent their business and break away from their competitors and succeed. 

So, we define five key pillars for that autonomous digital enterprise, or ADE. It starts from:

  • a transcendent customer experience, exciting and delighting the customer at every touchpoint;
  • tailoring and customizing the experience through omnichannel; the role of mobile devices, for example, is becoming more prominent now where many of us are consuming just about every service you can imagine through these mobile devices;
  • to hyper-intelligent automation, where you can go and look at every business process and say: “Can I automate this?” “Can I speed it?” “Can I make a more intelligent decision?” and what actions to be taken by higher precision of productivity;
  • to enterprise DevOps, which is the equivalent of DevOps in software development but in running the business, being able to respond quickly to feedback and evolve business initiatives delivers them in a bite size from that to deriving business insights based on data;
  • then last but not least, it's pervasive and proactive cybersecurity.

There's a lot of pillars, and automation, as you can imagine, is a key pillar of that ADE, and that's what Control M and this new helix control m SAS offering is getting pretty exciting.

Q: Does this software have an intuitive-enough user interface that line of business people can use it?

A: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, we're increasingly seeing applications and use cases for it now outside IT. I can talk for an hour about this, but let me maybe just give you a couple of examples: 

  • A major hospital in Florida is using it to automate the monitoring of capacity management; the critical care units and utilization. As you can imagine, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the conditions going through it, this becomes a key and a critical function. 
  • So two main things is on time and automating all the different systems in monitoring using Control M becomes a key and compelling use case, all the way from there to a trucking company that's running a huge fleet of hundreds of thousands of vehicles and assets, and use this automation framework to automate the maintenance of the trucks, for example, but they can monitor various systems and OT data points. They can make decisions and automate when attracting maintenance, and then they can tie this to warranty information to location of support depots availability of parts. And they will automatically route the truck to where it gets that service, minimizing disruption and maximizing the capacity to deliver parcels. Many many use cases like that; I would say, this is going to become a standard part of all of our lives.

Q: Sounds like it. BMC is one of those companies that's connecting so many dots everywhere. And if those dots aren't connected or just one drops--the whole transaction can fall apart. So, next time I go to the ATM, I'm going to put my PIN number in, and then push a button. And about 30 different systems are going to be touched, probably by the time my money comes out, right?

A: It's amazing how many different systems that transaction triggers have access to the public cloud, private data center, all the way to mainframe centers, connecting multiple financial institutions, all spit out the cash that you're going to get into those draws.

Q: What would you like to see happen in the next 12 to 24 months under your watch for BMC?

A: So we're seeing already a huge deal of momentum and excitement from how the customers and the industry are receiving our vision for Enterprise 2025. Our focus on autonomous digital enterprise. Our mission as a company is to help partners, our customers to make them at ease. We are going through a major pandemic now, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the light at the end of that tunnel. And a lot of the skills that we've gained through automation through use of technology are here to stay. I'm looking forward to seeing this taking roots and becoming part of the new normal.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...