BMC plans major new release

A challange to get users seriously interested in architecture, says vice president

Enterprise software vendor BMC is set for a major release across its range this week.

Over the next several weeks, the company will make three major announcements, covering as many as “50 products and 40 interfaces”, according to Paul Avenant, BMC’s vice president for service management.

Details are still under wraps, but Computerworld understands that this week’s releases will enhance the foundation software around business service management, centred on the configuration management database (CMDB) and “discovery tools” for creating records of what’s on the company network, and which applications use what part of the infrastructure.

In the following releases, Avenant hints, BMC will tackle “how to leverage these products [and other established lines such as incident response] for real solutions” in a business sense. As well as enhancing current capability, the updates may take BMC into new areas.

A furthering of BMC’s relatively new identity management could be on the cards, Computerworld understands. It is a logical step from keeping track of infrastructure elements and applications to recording and auithenticating people and the hardware and applications which they are authorised to use, and treating the human element of the system as an “asset”.

Avenant was in New Zealand last week as a keynote speaker at the second annual conference of the New Zealand chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMFnz), speaking on “Architecting for change — getting intentional about managing IT architecture.”

“We still have a way to go with [getting users seriously interested in] architecture,” he says. Not that the interest isn’t there, but “it’s still in hype mode”, with users likely to have unrealistic expectations for little effort.

In reality, architecture building is a gradual process, beginning with the fundamentals like the CMDB, he says. “Everyone wants to talk about CMDB.”

Once this foundation repository is in place, essential services such as asset management, change management incident response and definition, and monitoring of service-level agreements can be built on top of it.

ITIL (IT infrastructure library) is a crucial set of disciplines in designing an architecture phrased in terms of business services rather than technological elements, says Avenant.

ITIL, fortunately, is another hot topic at CIO and management level. BMC has moved up to the level where it talks to those people, he says, and there is less emphasis on pitching to the more technical level of the systems administrator or database administrator.

Sceptics might see BMC’s growth into all areas of the service management spectrum as an attempt at old-fashioned vendor lock-in, but this business strategy is no longer acceptable or possible in the face of open standards such as web services, Avenant says.

If the client wants a different vendor’s incident management tool, for example, then that should work with the BMC suite, provided the other vendor has designed to standard interfaces. But before putting together such a heterogeneous system, the customer should ensure that a “foreign” component will either do the job better or be cheaper in long-term cost than the BMC alternative, he says. A planned architecture does not clash with agile systems, he says. The security of a well-designed base actually improves the ability to be agile, he says.

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