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VMware's System Management Push: CA, BMC, HP Push Back

Traditional systems management vendors lock horns with VMware as it trespasses into their space. In some cases, they remain the better option, say users.

BMC's Schoenbeck said Cloud Lifecycle Management uses a CMDB derived from Atrium to capture the data about each virtual machine as it's built, and updates it with each change. That allows Cloud Lifecycle Management to serve as a platform for doing many other things in the virtualized part of the data center, also sometimes organized as a private cloud. It can serve as a base for applying policies to individual VMs and ensure that workload service level agreements (SLAs) will be met.

"Having a CMDB is wonderful goal in a stable environment. In the virtualized environment, with everything moving around, having a single source of truth (the CMDB) is invaluable," said Schoenbeck.

The configuration management database also figured prominently in HP's announcement July 23 of HP Configuration Management System 10. It also has a CMDB. HP calls it a "universal" CMDB because it can discover and capture information on servers, whether they are physical or virtual and whether they are on-premises or in the cloud, said Jimmy Augustine, product marketing manager for HP software in an interview.

Configuration Management System can discover both physical and virtual servers and the things they are attached to--databases and other services--to map their dependencies into the CMDB. It doesn't matter whether the servers are on-premises or in the cloud, said Augustine.

That discovery is unusual, said Scott Hite, an early adopter of the product and director of technology for global IT asset management at Equifax. "HP has taken two different industry leading technologies and merged them together."

Equifax uses IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle database systems, and the discovery component of HP's product can tell which release of each system you're using. Equifax gets a more complete view of the software assets it has in use on each server, he continued. "I feel HP has re-invented the discovery space. I don't know of another vendor that's pulled it off," he said in an interview July 23.

CA Technologies illustrates both how traditional systems management vendors have expanded their capabilities into cloud server management and the pressure they're under to hold their own in the face of rising virtualization and cloud software providers.

Late last year, IDC named CA one of the top two companies in the cloud systems management market, thanks to its chain of acquisition that had allowed it to quickly move into the space. It bought Nimsoft, 3Tera, NetQOS, Oblicore, and Cassatt and used them to build out management capabilities in CA AppLogic, CA Business Service Insight, and CA Service Automation.

But a recent report by Technology Business Research said cloud revenues are not ramping up fast enough to replace declining mainframe product revenues. "Vendors such as CA Technologies and competitor BMC are facing increasing challenges because they are caught between large systems vendors (such as IBM, HP, and Oracle) and smaller, more agile cloud-based systems management vendors," said analyst Jillian Mirandi in the July 26 commentary.

CA's traditional mainframe product line declined 3% in 2011 but increased its operating margin from 57% to 59%. "The mainframe business accounts for 84% of CA Technologies’ profits, while generating slightly more than half of its revenue," she wrote.

She expects the company to concentrate on its mainframe and cloud products throughout 2012-13. "CA will not experience the rapid growth it had hoped through initial cloud-based acquisitions ... we believe the company will achieve very small, but very profitable growth in fiscal year '13," she concluded.

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