Management vendors make good on acquisitions

Enterprise network managers could benefit from a flurry of acquisitions in which network management veterans BMC Software and Hewlett-Packard separately bought leading-edge technologies and integrated the wares into their software suites.

Management software vendors that promise to automate data centre operations, virtualize computing resources and manage IT to support business services have one thing in common: they need to fill technology gaps in their product offerings. Many have done so through acquisition; HP in the past year has acquired 11 companies.

"Talking about what the new technology can do for BMC or HP customers is all theoretical until [the vendors] do the integration work and get products out," says Stephen Elliot, a senior analyst with IDC. "But several management vendors have been strategically filling gaps in their product lines."

Take BMC, for example. The company's September 2002 and March 2003 acquisitions of Remedy and IT Masters, respectively, kicked off the company's business services management (BSM) initiative, in which BMC says its software will help customers manage IT infrastructure and application performance directly in relation to a pre-defined business service.

The company will also integrate change and configuration management technologies acquired in March when BMC purchased Marimba. The technology will help users build topology maps of assets, collect configuration data and correlate it with business service performance goals.

Three software applications -- Topology Discovery, Configuration Discovery and Discovery Express -- work with a configuration management database, which the company says will let users keep an up-to-date record of device, server, application and desktop configurations and automatically track changes.

Topology Discovery and Discovery Express look at the registries on desktops and servers to establish an inventory and build topological maps. While the express version simply pings machines to gather information, Topology Discovery creates relationship maps among the servers and desktops and populates the database with topology information. Configuration Discovery collects data from devices, servers, mainframes and desktops to also populate the database with configuration data.

Peter Pace, manager of change management for United Airlines, says his IT team uses Remedy's Change Management (now part of BMC) software to track changes made across 200 servers. And he says that "it's just a matter of when" the company can implement BMC configuration management tools to augment its change-control process.

"Change management provides a level of control and discipline throughout the IT organization," Pace says. "It enables the review and communication of changes so that we can fully understand the potential risks and impact as the changes are implemented."

Configuration Discovery was to be made available in July and Discovery Express is expected to be available a little later in the year as is, and Topology Discovery. Pricing will be determined when the products become generally available.

Separately, HP has also made news with a recent acquisition. The company announced new identity management software that will automate adding a new user, including tasks such as assigning privileges to application and computing resources, setting up a phone extension and getting a desktop PC.

OpenView Select Identity is the result of HP's March acquisition of TruLogica. The new software will join HP's identity management suite, which also includes OpenView Select Access, software announced last year and built on technology HP acquired from Baltimore Technologies. HP says bringing business process-related information into the identity management systems will let the software automatically assign resources based on patterns.

"We call it contextual identity management. We model the infrastructure, the users and the assets and then based on changing information, the software can automatically move a user into a group with specific application resources," says Andrew Flint, product manager for HP OpenView Select Access.

Pricing for HP OpenView Select Identity starts at $US75 per user, with volume discounts available.

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