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.

Michael Biddick, CEO, Fusion PPT

May 8, 2008

3 Min Read

I've got my service catalog. And my CMDB. Time for business services management, right?

Not quite. Even in environments with robust monitoring, the real trick for many is modeling event information into services. For this you need application dependency mapping, or ADM. These systems provide the greatest promise for simplifying BSM service monitoring and mapping, and best of all, they work with your existing enterprise management tools. Think of ADM as a worker bee that populates relationship information into a CMDB, or in some cases, directly to your service modeling application. ADM systems get data from routing tables, configuration files, port allocation tables, and any other way the environment can be dissected, then map the relationship between applications and the infrastructure and work to dynamically build application services.

EMC Smarts' Application Discovery Manager (formally nLayers) and Symantec's Relicore Clarity are strong contenders in application dependency mapping. The EMC offering is an appliance, while Symantec relies on agents. Tideway's Foundation is another appliance ADM. It can automatically generate detailed business application dependency maps that will help with initial rollouts while improving maintainability, and the product also can manage virtualized server environments.

The final piece of BSM is process--all the monitoring tools in the universe won't help if you lack a methodical process for delivering IT services. While best practices like ITIL, ISO 20000, COBIT, and eTOM can help create a process framework, organizations also must look inward. While ITIL is becoming the de facto standard for enterprises, we've seen too many organizations that just send their people through a class and expect the world to change. But save your training budget, because it won't. For example, even mature companies that have all the elements in place to provide effective BSM need to ensure that processes exist to prevent and alert on service issues before they affect customers. Only a company that has embraced and customized a best-practices framework can rise to that challenge. A tightly integrated BSM program will leave you no better off if you don't know what to do with the information.

Like those work-from-home, get-rich-quick schemes, you will hear from vendors claiming fast and easy business services management. Smaller upstart vendors will often oversimplify problems and oversell their products' capabilities, while most larger vendors still have work to do integrating disparate product portfolios. Both tend to understate the effort and cost to deploy and configure.

If you can't get three or four references, keep looking. We've seen enterprises that have invested millions and only scratched the surface. Bottom line, if you see BSM as a destination, you will be disappointed. If you're setting management expectations that spending a few hundred thousand dollars will get you there, you may be looking for another job.

The best, more progressive CIOs are already working toward business services management. Get ahead of the crowd here--in the future, every IT organization will be service-centric in some form. Yet few organizations will point to a single BSM product or vendor that got them through the storm.

About the Author(s)

Michael Biddick

CEO, Fusion PPT

As CEO of Fusion PPT, Michael Biddick is responsible for overall quality and innovation. Over the past 15 years, Michael has worked with hundreds of government and international commercial organizations, leveraging his unique blend of deep technology experience coupled with business and information management acumen to help clients reduce costs, increase transparency and speed efficient decision making while maintaining quality. Prior to joining Fusion PPT, Michael spent 10 years with a boutique-consulting firm and Booz Allen Hamilton, developing enterprise management solutions. He previously served on the academic staff of the University of Wisconsin Law School as the Director of Information Technology. Michael earned a Master's of Science from Johns Hopkins University and a dual Bachelor's degree in Political Science and History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Michael is also a contributing editor at InformationWeek Magazine and Network Computing Magazine and has published over 50 recent articles on Cloud Computing, Federal CIO Strategy, PMOs and Application Performance Optimization. He holds multiple vendor technical certifications and is a certified ITIL v3 Expert.

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