Mercury Offers IT Blueprint

The application testing provider unveils its Business Technology Optimization strategy-its strategy for helping companies run IT like a business.

Mercury Interactive Corp. today finally put an architecture and roadmap around its Business Technology Optimization strategy.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., application testing provider, which launched its BTO strategy last year, pulled a series of strategic acquisitions along with existing products and enhancements into a cohesive story about how to run IT like a business.

The blueprint calls for creating four centers of excellence, dubbed Optimization Centers, which are intended to boost IT efficiency through automation and integration of functions.

The four Optimization Centers include the Mercury IT Governance Center, Mercury Quality Center, Mercury Performance Center and Mercury Business Availability Center.

Each center includes a set of software, services and "embedded best practices" intended to help solve critical IT problems, according to John Bruggeman, vice president of marketing.

As a part of its launch, Mercury Interactive enhanced 15 of its existing products and added four new products—some from recent acquisitions such as Kintana Inc. and Performant Inc.

Bruggeman believes the architecture aligns with a trend marking the maturing of IT toward an organizational model around centers of excellence.

But how substantive that trend is may be in doubt, according to Glenn ODonnell industry analyst with Meta Group Inc. in Palmerton, Pa.

"Theres been a lot of lip service given, with talk about [IT Infrastructure Library] and operational processes. There are certain responsibilities that IT has to the business. There is interest in what they are and how to capture and control those," he said.

Each center includes a set of applications that automate and optimize a specific IT function along with a foundation layer that integrates the functions and allows data to be shared across the applications. Each center also includes a dashboard that provides a business view into the performance of each center.

The Mercury IT Governance Center focuses on IT priorities, processes and execution.

It includes eight applications acquired with Kintana. Those include Demand Management, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Management, Resource (people) Management, Time Management, Financial Management and Change Management.

Of those, only Portfolio Management was enhanced since the acquisition to be able to perform "what-if scenarios on various initiatives in the portfolio," said Jonathan Rende, vice president of product marketing.

In the application delivery space, Mercury Quality Center focuses on quality of new applications, and Mercury Performance Center focuses on the performance of new applications.

The Quality Center includes several Mercury tools, including WinRunner, TestDirector and QuickTest Professional. They were integrated into the foundation to be able to share data, and they exploit the new dashboard. The dashboard for the Quality Center, now built on J2EE, includes 25 new key performance indicators that track transactions per second, current response time and so on.

The Mercury Performance Center adds a new Mercury Capacity Planning tool to Mercurys existing LoadRunner, Mercury Tuning and Mercury Diagnostics tools. "LoadRunner generates information capacity planners can use to perform what-if scenarios," said Rende. Mercury Diagnostics is based in part on technology acquired with Performant Inc.

The Business Availability Center adds a new Customer Impact application that allows IT to "look at multiple lines of business they support and categorize them based on priority [gold, silver, bronze] and assign resources on how their business criticality rates overall," he said.

The Business Availability Center also includes Mercury Topaz Business Process, End User Management and Topaz Service Level Management.

The new and enhanced products in the centers are available between now and the first quarter of next year. But Mercury Interactives strategy is a long-term one that still has a number of missing pieces, ODonnell pointed out.

"A lot of the automation components are missing—especially when you get into automated configuration and change management. That will have to be part of the strategy. Now they are focusing on automation of the business of IT and a lot of the application-oriented automated insight," he said.

Competitively, the initiative is aimed at putting Mercury Interactive into the top tier of large enterprise management players alongside BMC Software, IBMs Tivoli unit and others, believes Zeus Kerravala, analyst with The Yankee Group Inc. in Boston.

"The real struggle theyll have is to get people to think of them as something other than a testing vendor. But the opportunity is there to go steal some of the business there," he said.

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