BMC Test-Drives New Dashboard

The company bolsters its IT management analysis capabilities.

BMC software is promising to bring users another step closer to the holy grail of IT management: managing infrastructure from the business perspective.

BMC on May 15 is releasing new deliverables in its BSM (Business Service Management) initiative, including the second generation of both its Atrium CMDB (Configuration Management Database) and its Automated Discovery. In addition, the company is introducing a new dashboard and the first of several planned analytics capabilities that provide business metrics and trending information.

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With an eye toward making it easier for organizations to align their operations with ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) recommendations on IT management, BMC is working to help IT become more responsive to businesses.

"IT shops [in general] have traditionally managed from a piece-part level," said BMC customer Ryan Staggs, a director in the IT systems group at Hospital Corporation of America, in Nashville, Tenn. "Managing and monitoring from the end-user perspective is enabled through things like a CMDB and scripting technologies that try to simulate the end-user experience. Those allow you to understand the impact to the business when a component goes down."

Version 2.0 of the Atrium CMDB includes a "much richer set of configuration item data" driven by broader discovery capabilities that bring in new information on identity, business processes and storage, in addition to existing discovery of databases, Web servers, applications from companies such as SAP and Siebel Systems, as well as virtual systems such as VMware, said BMC Chief Technology Officer Tom Bishop, in Houston.

"The CMDB is a mechanism from ITIL that defines a set of configuration items and acts as a synchronization point between different ITIL management processes," Bishop said. "Each has a set of attributes that we extended, so were discovering more assets, more about the assets and more relationships between the assets."

BMC in the fall of 2006 also will add to its BSM initiative the ability to discover mainframe elements, including hardware, software, applications and transaction information from BMC mainframe management suites.

The expanded scope of automated discovery is key for HCA.

"Being able to discover more assets is a universal need," Staggs said. "Were a large shop. Weve got tons of platforms we use in a production environment, so scope is important. Being able to tie the relationships goes back to BSM and the user experience, and I can do this efficiently or inefficiently. We want our process to be supported by tools that allow me to automatically identify these relationships out there. If we cant streamline these processes through tools, we wont invest in it at all."

BMC partnered with IDS Scheer to create a new discovery tool, dubbed BMC Discovery for ARIS IDS Scheer, which automates the discovery of business process models from the process consulting companys ARIS Business Architect application.

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Those models can then be linked with data on IT services and infrastructure in the CMDB to enable IT administrators to see what business process is affected when IT events happen and then prioritize events based on their business impact.

The new dashboard delivers a high-level view along with an ITIL view of the data being federated in the CMDB. It addresses a long-standing need for IT to communicate with the business in business terms, rather than IT terms, Bishop said.

"At the end of the day, the goal should be to get a simple, straightforward view of the IT things people care about, to put IT activities more on a business foundation," Bishop said.

"Conceptually ... analytics and leveraging that data in aggregate- and scenario-based forms [are] extremely important [in order] to make improvements to the operating environment," Staggs said.

HCAs IT organization is in the midst of a multiyear effort to implement ITIL methodologies. After implementing eight of the 10 ITIL processes, it has had positive results. For example, in its incident management process, the company has seen the average time needed to resolve critical trouble tickets drop from as long as 30 hours down to less than 4, Staggs said.

The new Atrium View dashboard—which graphically displays aggregated business views into the IT environment—and new analytics are the first of several cross-functional dashboards and analytics that BMC plans to add, company officials said.

Over the coming months, BMC will introduce a series of some 60 new products that build on its CMDB foundation.

BMC, the earliest of the big four enterprise systems management providers to launch a CMDB effort, is still ahead in delivering on its BSM promises, said Rich Ptak, principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates, in Amherst, N.H. "Theyre setting the pace for providing a robust and useful CMDB," Ptak said.

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