Q&A: BMC takes on management of cloud computing

Cloud computing makes systems management even more important --- and much more complex

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Business service management

Q: How is BSM, a field you're widely credited for inventing, different from traditional enterprise systems management?

Beauchamp: BSM is the general envelop of how we describe what I've been talking about, which is this self-service provisioning, managed service level, transparency and compliance. And ESM is just a name we made up for our business unit that is the non-mainframe business unit.

Here's an example of BSM. Last year a very large seed manufacturer was remaking their IT organization. I met with the CIO right before they standardized on us, and she was explaining to me the rationale. She basically said, look, we're going from -- and I won't get this right -- two mutations per genome or whatever it is in the seed, to an eight-pack so you can plant wheat in countries you couldn't before. And, she said, in order to do that, they have environments where their scientists need to run simulations that are unbelievably computationally expensive to do.

Sometimes those are just sandbox activities. So in that case they want to go outside. They use a university's grid environment to do a slow computational; it gets it done and just uses whatever resources are available at the time, kind of a grid model. And then when they go to run their big test and they really have to certify it for the government, they want to run it inside on their very scarce resource -- a very expensive, computational platform.

And what they want is people to just request a service, and they want the engine to decide, am I going to jump over here to the university grid, am I going to go run it on the inside physical environment that already exists? Do I need to pick up a new VM on another machine to run it inside that environment because it needs to be segregated for compliance reasons? By the way, that's getting really complicated. They want our software to be the common portal for the 'store' where you go to request it, the common engine that decides where to host it, provision it on those environments, maintain the service level, and then report on it.

This is our value proposition around business service management, how we deliver it. And cloud is one module inside of that.

Q: You've used the term 'ERP for IT.' Where are you on the journey of delivering that?

Beauchamp: Well we are a little cautious about using that term too much. Some customers just love it, but some people will equate it to the things that didn't go well in the ERP generation. You know, you're going to do it our way, and it's rigid, and it's going to take three years, but it's really going to take three and a half, and it's going to cost a hundred million, but it's really going to cost four hundred million. So we don't use that term externally, really. But internally we'll refer to it that way sometimes, because what we're really talking about is full life-cycle management for services, where if it works right it turns into a management link, a hub and everything that plugs into it gets commoditized. If you can get an Ethernet cable into the thing, we can discover it, and we don't care what it is, we can manage it. You could swap out one vendor and plug in another. So you really begin to disaggregate the stacks of IT, which is the exact opposite of what HP and IBM want to do. They basically need those stacks.

Behnia: I think where we are on that journey really depends on the maturity of the individual enterprises. Different enterprises are at different maturity steps. One of the things that we did in the design of our architecture is to make sure that customers could deploy this as they go. So that we're not overshooting their capabilities or their needs. And this is one of the big differentiators for us, and where the analogy for ERP breaks. Because many of the ERP solutions were very monolithic.

Beauchamp: If you hire us to do it, we can get you a long way to it right now. It's not as cookie cutter as it needs to be. But we're doing it for customers now on a regular basis. Every quarter we're taking the rough edges off -- where this product and this product connect. It's just in the productization of the whole thing. We still have to go in with experts and help you configure it and get it set up and interview you. And it's still got a services element that's a little rich.

Acquisitions and partnerships

Q: You've described the Blade Logic deal as a 'transitional' event for the company. Did it really turn out that way?

Beauchamp: Absolutely. When you take Blade and you add it to our network configuration automation product, and you add it to our run book automation product, you have the core of the automation suite. One of our competitors says they're all about cloud, but they have no automation tool. They've got all sorts of management widgets, but you can't provision a cloud. Without Blade Logic, we would not have been able to provision clouds. We would not have had the relationship with Cisco. We would not have been involved in as strategic a relationship as we have with Dell. We wouldn't be as involved as we are now with Accenture and Capgemini and CSC and Wipro and most of the global outsourcers and systems integrators.

Q: How do these partnerships go beyond the usual marketing slogans -- are they having a material impact on the bottom line?

Beauchamp: It depends which ones. We won an order last December, one of the biggest orders in our history. Accenture was very involved in that deal. They are actually doing the implementation of our software. The two of us worked together on that deal. Accenture views us very importantly, as their management partner in many cases. You can't say it was just the direct sell-through that was material. It was the influence and the relationship. You can tell a similar story around CSC and about many of the Asian outsourcers and systems integrators.

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