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BMC Software Offers Shoes To Cobbler's Children--IT Staffers

The company believes the move to automate process management is now expanding to include IT processes, and it wants to provide the tools to help IT departments.

What is business service management, a phrase that was constantly on the agenda of the BMC Software user conference in San Francisco this past week? It's shoes for the cobbler's children, most of whom are hiding out in the IT department these days, says Bob Beauchamp, the man who's worked himself up through the ranks of the company since 1988 to become president and CEO.

"Eighty percent of outages are now caused by IT processes," such as updating applications, applying operating system patches, and attempting to improve security protections, said Beauchamp. In the past, failures were frequently caused by the malfunction of a hardware component or a stall in a running application.

Since the late-1990s, IT shops have been automating the operation of databases and applications and Web sites. Beauchamp said BMC tried to keep up with shift starting in 2000 by moving beyond spot mainframe tools that once dominated its product line to infrastructure management. Automation of application operations, represented by the data sharing capabilities of applications from SAP AG, Siebel Systems, and J. D. Edwards, by-passed IT processes themselves for many years.

"Since 2000, we have bet the company that the automated management of processes would move down the stack to IT processes. That wave is happening We believed the cobblers at some time would have to put shoes on their own children," he said in an interview after addressing a conference session on "The State of BSM." Forrester Research predicts that the movement toward services oriented architecture will propel adoption of BSM in the form of configuration management databases, which capture the related settings of applications, operating systems and databases. Once captured, they can be reset or applied to a new set of hardware and software more quickly than when system administrators configure systems manually.

Only 8% of companies with $1 billion or more in revenues have implemented configuration databases, said Forrester in an April report, "Implementing BSM." By 2008, 25% will have done so, the Forrester research predicted.

As a company, BMC has made a transition from mainframe system tools to business services management. One-third of its revenues now spring from mainframe users versus two-thirds from enterprise business service management. In mid-May, BMC launched its second generation Atrium Configuration Management Database 2.0 and BMC Discovery, a system for identifying software assets, capturing their settings, identifying their dependencies, and cataloguing their users.

Automated discovery and configuration management databases are a necessity in an age when companies are reorganizing around SOA, Beauchamp claimed. With former monolithic applications re-jiggered as dozens of small services, the IT environment becomes too complex with too many interdependencies for system operators to carry around in their heads. "Traditional management environments will not work with the rapidly deployed, new technologies like SOA and virtualization," he said.

BMC competes with IBM, HP, and CA (formerly Computer Associates) for the configuration management and system management market.

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