Article

Windows, systems management players gird for battle

Margie Semilof
This is the second in a series of articles on systems management trends.

IT managers looking for integrated systems management from their software providers may be looking at vendors plying products that resemble a patchwork quilt for years to come.

This is because the Big Four systems management vendors – IBM Tivoli, BMC, CA and Hewlett-Packard Co. -- kept busy in 2006 rushing to plug gaps in their portfolios while keeping pace with changes in IT technology. With all of the merger and acquisition activity, it's possible that it may take years for vendors to stitch together a fully integrated systems management product lineup. Microsoft, with its System Center portfolio that serves the Windows platform, may be the sole exception.

For the Windows enterprise, Microsoft is expected to emerge as a formidable competitor, experts say, adding that they believe it will ultimately own Windows management. Today the company manages only Windows. "If Microsoft wants to be an enterprise management player and meet the needs of the Global 2000, it will have to cross that divide," said Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner Inc.

In the spring, the company will introduce versions of two of its flagship management tools, Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). SMS is Microsoft's desktop management software. It is now called System Center Configuration Manager. MOM is now called System Center Operation Manager.

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Microsoft is also planning a service desk product that is in private beta today and will go into public beta in the next few months. It is due to ship in either late 2007 or early 2008. The software will focus on four key areas – incident management, problem management, asset management and change management, and they can integrate with another help desk, other management systems or with other applications via an API.

"Microsoft is spending a lot of time with its System Definition Model and Service Modeling Language, trying to understand dependencies around managed objects," Haight said. "But to be successful, [Microsoft] will have to enter the heterogeneous world."

Enter Microsoft with a plan

Microsoft's strategy for this is to focus on operating with other vendors' products, to work closely with other vendors through the working group formed around the Service Modeling Language and through its partners, according to Larry Orecklin, general manager of System Center marketing at Microsoft.

Many IT shops today use a mixture of tools from a variety of vendors. At Sodexho Inc., a Gaithersburg, Md.-based food service company, there are systems management products installed from Tivoli, HP and Microsoft. Tivoli is used to monitor Unix and was originally used to monitor Windows CPU and disk space.

Over the years, the company added products from Mercury Interactive, now part of HP, and purchased Microsoft's Operations Manager software, among others. Robert Kuehfus, a LAN engineer at Sodexho, said all the company's IT team really wants is one product that can take on more functions. "All of these tools are very expensive to maintain and license," he said.

In a complex environment such as this, the issue then becomes the level of duplication that occurs when a number of tools are used. "Overlap causes the most problems for us," Kuehfus said.

The market for systems management software is experiencing some healthy expansion. Here are the latest acquisitions:

  • IBM had an impressive shopping spree in 2006, spending $5 billion on 14 acquisitions. Six of those acquisitions were within its Tivoli management division, including CIM Lab, a maker of software that tracks resources used across virtualized technology environments, and Rembo Technology Systems, which makes software that provisions operating systems on desktops without requiring an agent on the desktop. A third was MRO Software, which makes asset and service management software. •
  • HP spent $4.5 billion in 2006 acquiring Mercury Interactive, gaining some muscle in the realm of testing and transaction monitoring. •
  • Islandia, N.Y.-based CA bought application management software vendor Wily Technology one year ago for $375 million. •
  • BMC Software Inc., in March, snapped up application problem resolution software maker Identify Software for $150 million.

Gartner's Dataquest division puts the annual growth rate of systems management software at 10.2%, which includes both mainframe and distributed computing products.

In 2005, the IT operations management software market checked in at $9.9 billion. By 2010, the market is expected to grow to $16.1 billion. Within the market, all categories are growing – including application management and network management, said Haight. But one of the biggest is configuration management, provisioning tools and patch management technologies.

Further, configuration management databases are now viewed as a cornerstone to IT management. And there is more interest today in linking IT to business processes.

Essentially, all of the systems management vendors have different goals and ways to cast the market, Haight said. They all focus favorably on what they have to offer and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library has tried to bring some standards to this industry.


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