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BMC's CTO: It Will Still Be A Heterogeneous World

I had the chance recently to talk to Kia Bahnia, CTO of BMC Software, the systems management vendor. He reminded me how virtualization is first and foremost about running applications, not saving capital expenses or reducing the server footprint in the data center. Think "applications." When it comes to cloud computing, ditto.
I had the chance recently to talk to Kia Bahnia, CTO of BMC Software, the systems management vendor. He reminded me how virtualization is first and foremost about running applications, not saving capital expenses or reducing the server footprint in the data center. Think "applications." When it comes to cloud computing, ditto.The two major trends in the data center, virtualization and cloud computing, have the same underlying, age-old goal: run the application more efficiently and make it more accessible to the end user. In a non-hyped sense, that's all there is to either one of these fundamental movements.

I'd gotten a glimmer of that fact when VMware acquired the open source Java framework company, SpringSource. "Why would VMware buy SpringSource?" many people wondered. I think the answer is VMware wants to understand applications, how to build them and move them around and how to architect them for that purpose as they're being developed.

One way to do so is to own the development platform, and Spring is an extremely popular Java development framework. If you can engineer the framework, then you can architect the application for virtualization and cloud use. You can build in feedback mechanisms, monitoring, metering and troubleshooting agents, all of which could help the hypervisor and the virtual management layer understand what's happening in the application. VMware buying SpringSource was crazy, I said at the time, crazy like a fox.

SpringSource is also a leading implementor of OSGi principles, which encourage the development of Java objects around a set of specifications that make it easier for them to interact in a predictable way, also a good characteristic for applications that may be used in the services-oriented data center or in the cloud. With its added application expertise, VMware might have some notion of how to further this goal.

But back to Behnia. The BMC CTO said his firm has been specializing in the discovery of applications and mapping their dependencies since its acquisition of Tideway Systems in October. Tideway's Foundation was a leading product in that space. It now appears as part of the BMC Atrium Application Discovery and Dependency Mapping.

BMC's January acquisition of Phurnace, a supplier of a Java application configuration and deployment system, is a key building block to configuring and deploying Java applications in a virtual environment. Mastering virtual application deployment is a big step toward managing the application as a cloud workload as well. Former Phurance products now appear in BMC BladeLogic Application Release Automation.

If virtual and cloud computing is about applications, then understanding how applications need to be deployed in virtual environments is going to be fundamental skill of future IT success. VMware and other virtualization vendors will play a role in achieving that understanding, but it's easy to see how the traditional systems managers, BMC, CA, HP and IBM, are going to play a role as well.

"It's a cultural change. It's a move away from one-off servers," Behnia noted, to focusing on application management, in some cases, software appliance management, regardless of which server it happens to be running on.

There will be various vertical stacks of applications, application servers and related middleware but Behnia believes for the most part it will remain a heterogeneous application world with different brand parts working together. Among other things, IT managers are likely to implement more than one virtualization hypervisor in their shops, leading to a need to manage more than one type of virtual machine.

In the meantime, "the negative side of early cloud computing is vendor lock-in… No one vendor has a lead in the innovation battle. It's been a series of leap frog movements…" he said.

Assess multiple vendors and spread your business across more than one, with an application management system assisting that purpose. BMC for one will manage across multiple application providers and virtual machine hypervisors. Houston-based BMC "will be heterogeneous. We have been for 28 years," Behnia said.



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