BMCs Miller: Wrapping a Mainframe Strategy Around Tools

BMC's mainframe business unit general manager, Bill Miller, details how the company is enabling customers' most critical data to work with BMC's Service Impact Manager.

BMC Software Inc. at its second Business Service Management Executive Event this week will bring the mainframes role more clearly into focus in where it plays in BMCs strategy to more effectively link IT to the business. One of the earliest large software players to take up the BSM drumbeat, BMC last year at its inaugural event highlighted the platform providers it is working with to make BSM real for its customers. This year, BMC will showcase its 12-month development effort to bring its Mainview and SmartDBA tools into the BSM strategy. Paula Musich, eWeek senior editor, spoke recently with BMCs mainframe business unit general manager, Bill Miller, about the Houston companys latest BSM developments.

One of they key components of BMCs BSM strategy is its Service Impact Manager, which, in your words, acts as a kind of "traffic cop" in linking IT to the business. It is designed to bring business context to dealing with IT infrastructure events that happen in real time, so that IT operators can better prioritize how they respond to problems. I understand youre announcing integration of your Mainview mainframe management and SmartDBA database management tools with SIM. What will that integration allow your customers to do? And why will they care?

Customers have made serious investments in mainframe technology and databases over the years, and the mainframe really shepherds much of the key data in an organization. Now customers most critical data will be able to work with our SIM. That will give them a way to set up [SLAs (service level agreements)] and be able to respond faster to events that occur in the database.

Today, Mainview sends events up to Patrol, and we can monitor things that way, but with this news well be going directly to the SIM. Weve been working hard on sending events that make sense to the SIM. Over time well be doing a better job filtering those events. With the second piece of this, were connecting the SmartDBA mainframe and distributed piece to the SIM. Our challenge is to take all the data in these different databases and just send to SIM whats really needed for it to do its job. We added the IMS database component, so now we can include [IBMs] DB2, IMS, [Microsoft Corp.s] SQL Server, Oracle [Corp.s databases] and so on. Were delivering on our final database connection and now the Mainview connection to the SIM.

Theres been a lot of development activity at BMC lately around the mainframe and BSM. Does that represent a shift in BMCs emphasis or customer demand?

We think we have solutions in the mainframe world that not all our competitors do. This is something we can leverage based on what weve done in the past to make the BSM message even more powerful in their environments. When a business service crosses the mainframe and distributed world, it can cross multiple applications, multiple databases, and the mainframe and distributed side. We can meld those worlds by tracking, addressing and providing a solution that crosses all those boundaries. That is one true value BMC brings to the table. Were now connected into that environment, so the customer doesnt need to worry about doing things differently for each environment.

BSM really requires that IT operations move beyond the silo mentality of management and change the way they are organized and change their processes. Are your customers really ready for that?

I think that more and more customers as time goes on are seeing the importance of linking business to IT—how it can impact their business so they can truly see what the impact is of a database filling up or a server outage. Once we take them through that, I think they get it. Its a message thats resonating well. I dont know that all of them will reorganize. IT realizes that to be successful, they need to be linked effectively to the business. You have owners of processes that understand IT and the business. We think that message we bring to the table will let them get that done to make sure the business service stays up, make sure we optimize it, make sure we know what the problem is and what impact that outage has on the business.

Do you find that users are confused by all the different initiatives around utility computing or On Demand, Autonomic Computing, N1 and so on?

I think customers are smart enough to see the forest for the trees. I think that everybody wants to be a little bit different, but a lot of those things complement what were doing. Having information available to you at a moments notice complements BSM. Say a database fills up. We have an event that tells the SIM thats happening, and we can issue a Remedy trouble ticket. Its a closed-loop process for us. Now were taking this to the next step—tying this to the business to see the impact on the business side. The value could be in better customer support and service, better [determination of] what SLAs are and how we perform against them.

Some observers believe BMC is not moving fast enough to integrate technologies it has acquired with Remedy, IT Masters International S.A., Marimba Inc. and others. Where is BMC at in its integration efforts, and how would you respond to those critics?

What were announcing in the mainframe, weve been working on for about six to 12 months now. It is one of the top priorities in our business unit to integrate with the SIM. Its a challenge were working on very hard. The Remedy integration has been smooth and solid. We learned over the last 10 years that it is critical to ensure we do the integration right. Now when we make an acquisition, we are doing a better job of understanding the technology were acquiring. We bring it over now more so than in the past with an integration plan for the technology. In the past we havent been as efficient in doing that. Now weve moved to the head of that class.


Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.