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5/8/2008
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BSM Vendors Push Products, But Process Is More Important

Companies looking to sell software would like us to think that their suites can illuminate the link between IT systems and business services. Not so fast.

The concept of Business Services Management--that IT can fathom the connection between organizational goals and switches, servers, and applications--is one that software sellers are pushing hard. We've seen a slew of acquisitions aimed at refining the business services management, or BSM, portfolios of big app management vendors such as BMC, CA, and Hewlett-Packard, with accompanying marketing hype aimed at your CIO and business unit leaders.

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However, this promised future of BSM as a product is far from assured. We're seeing early BSM adopters feeling downright gloomy, mainly as a result of unmet expectations. Many deployments simply don't provide clear links between IT events and business services. In others, things start out well enough, but maintaining systems lacking in automation is not realistic given limited IT staff. The truth is, you can't buy your way to BSM, and companies that persist in thinking a single product, no matter how big, complex, and expensive, will deliver are doomed to disappointment.

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And while we're on the subject of disappointments, SOA initiatives have been major drivers moving organizations toward monitoring end-to-end Web services, as well as the inter-connection points between applications. The underlying tenet of service-oriented architecture is the ability to interconnect services. That requires the ability to manage and monitor--and we don't mean in an Excel spreadsheet. A SOA will quickly break down in any midsize to large organization that can't conceptualize SOA services.

Some have called BSM a journey, and that analogy has merit. The concept of managing to business services, as opposed to distinct network and application elements, is the future, even if all the marketing around single-vendor BSM is unrealistic.

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