BMC Ups IT Service Management Ante

BMC's new Service Automation initiative will bring it in closer competition with Hewlett Packard.

BMC Software will compete even more closely with Hewlett Packards growing software unit on Oct. 8 when it launches its BMC Service Automation initiative.

On the heels of HPs Opsware acquisition, BMC will announce a small acquisition of its own: automated network configuration management provider Emprisa Networks as a part of its initiative. The privately held Emprisa, which fills in the network change and configuration management piece of BMCs service automation play, competes with Opswares Network Automation System acquired with Rendition Networks in 2005.

The BMC Service Automation initiative, built around a handful of existing BMC products, is an extension of its Business Service Management thrust, according to Herb VanHook, vice president of corporate strategy at BMC in Tysons Corner, Va.

"Its really focused on configuration management and IT automation, and its broader than data center automation. Its not just about data center devices, but remote servers, desktops and network devices. And it is not just about the device, but incorporating activities around provisioning and configuration and automation of routine tasks and dealing with unplanned changes in the context of a process governance model," he said.

The suite of Service Automation tools BMC will bring to bear in its initiative provide functions such as orchestrating routine tasks, provisioning updating and configuring both physical and virtual servers, configuring network elements, packaging and deploying operating systems, security patches, updates and applications.


Read more here about Opsware System 7.

Elements of the suite include discovery and mapping of the IT environment as it relates to business applications; automated configuration for servers, networks and storage; change management in support of configuration policy adherence; run book automation as well as compliance and capacity management.

The run book automation element, based on technology BMC acquired last July with Real Ops, was enhanced to add more adapters, elements in the tools task library as well as more "out-of-the-box process and workflow applications," VanHook said. "At the end of the year well release [another round of enhancements] with an updated user interface in the design studio and operator console," he added.

It competes with run book automation technology Opsware acquired earlier this year with iConclude. Opsware integrated the iConclude technology with the other elements of its Opsware System 7 release launched last month.

"They have a story that fits nicely with what HP through Opsware delivers. From a marketing perspective, these two companies have a bit more of a story in that particular space than the likes of IBM or CA," said David Williams, a research vice president at Gartner in Austin, Texas.

Along with the new Configuration Automation for Networks suite based on the Emprisa Networks technology, BMC also updated its Configuration Automation for Servers suite with new patch management that spans Linux, Unix and Windows environments.

Configuration Automation for Networks is already integrated with BMCs Atrium Configuration Management Database.

But not all of the elements of BMCs initiative are there yet. In particular, BMC has yet to offer storage configuration management, according to Gartners Williams.

"It wouldnt surprise me if they move into storage next. Networks, servers, storage, and data (configuration management) are the four pillars in this," he said.


Click here to read more about BMCs building sales momentum in the first quarter.

BMCs VanHook acknowledged that not all the pieces are in place yet in its initiative. "You will see a lot of announcements from us over the next three to nine months that continue to expand this—some built on technology we already have, some brand new development, some acquisitions and some partners," he said.

One question dogging BMCs Service Automation initiative is whether BMC customers are ready for the kind of process maturity level the initiative advocates, said Andi Mann, research director at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

"In some respects theyre leading the market. Some [companies] are still in the process of implementing [IT Infrastructure Library] best practices. You need to have good processes in place to be able to automate—especially at the service level. You need a good understanding of what your business services are and how to connect things. Some companies arent there," Mann said.


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