Systems tools chase modeling mind-set

In an age of heightened demand for access to real-time business data, systems management vendors are forging BAM (business activity monitoring)-based modeling capabilities to streamline executive decision-making.

In the coming months, companies such as BMC Software Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intersperse Inc., and Tivoli Systems Inc. will roll out products that automate the provisioning of IT resources based on SLAs (service-level agreements).

The vendors are offering enterprises modeling tools as a way of reducing operating costs through the tight integration of IT processes with business decision-making processes.

Houston-based BMC Software has adopted a strategy called Business Service Management to pursue this vision, said Atwell Williams, BMC's director of enterprise service management.

The company plans to roll out components that integrate its repository software, Remedy Asset Management, with its event correlation application, MasterCell.

These applications in turn will integrate with BMC's event management application, Patrol Enterprise Manager. This fall, MasterCell will be rolled into Patrol Enterprise Management. The products complement BMC's Patrol End-to-End Response Timer, which monitors and models end-to-end transactions, Williams said.

BMC's suite can use the data in the repository to understand why an application may not be executing a transaction in a predetermined time frame and can take action to correct it. "Up until now, the data was historical," Williams said.

Computer Associates is in the midst of a two-year rollout of its Managing on Demand program. A key component of the program is delivering application and infrastructure performance data as a service, said David Hochhauser, vice president of Unicenter brand management at Islandia, N.Y.-based CA.

"The most critical aspect of that is to take your infrastructure, including the systems, databases, and network, and to build a model to see how they relate to the components of the actual business practices," Hochhauser said.

Dynamic Dependency Mapping, a component of Unicenter, collects and manages data from WebMethods, for example, to determine the various steps that make up the completed business process. This in turn is mapped to the infrastructure services that are being used to deliver the business process.

CA already offers WebMethods APIs, but later this year CA will release additional APIs to support the wares of other major EAI vendors.

HP's OpenView division is also "engaging lighthouse customers this summer," said Al Smith, CTO of HP's management organization in Mount Laurel, N.J.

A BIA (Business Impact Analysis) module will plug in to OpenView and allow IT executives to set up a flow-based business process model and SLAs.

The BIA module will also set thresholds for notification and action. It will be able to react either when an infrastructure event occurs or when a business action is required.

The module will be available as an engineering release late this fall and for general availability by the end of the year, Smith said.

"This is a subset of our adaptive enterprise concept that aligns business priorities with IT investment," Smith said.

Austin, Texas-based IBM Tivoli will also make a BAM announcement this fall following its May acquisition of Think Dynamics.

Tivoli is planning to announce that its systems management tool will incorporate Think Dynamics' application for automating system resources on the fly based on a set of policies and business processes.

"Think Dynamics will show up in our Business Service Management portfolio. It will revolutionize the way we are doing provisioning and the configuration of systems," said Don O'toole, director of marketing for Tivoli.

Meanwhile, Intersperse, a pure-play IT management company that emerged from stealth mode in the first quarter, will introduce its SLA management module for IT this fall.

According to Rob Williams, CTO of Pasadena, Calif.-based Intersperse, the problem with most BAM tools is that they deliver, over time, so much data that it becomes impossible to understand the relationships between the events and its business impact.

"This is where models make a lot more sense than just data," Intersperse's Williams said.

Bill Gassman, principal analyst at Gartner in Bedford, N.H., said enterprises' desire for reduced operating costs will continue to drive BAM solutions toward a services orientation.

"With all the conflicting demands on IT and little budget, at least 30 percent of the Fortune 2000 have started to treat IT as a service," Gassman said.

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