10 Big IT Management Moves in 2009

Delivering advanced management and automation capabilities is no longer just for BMC, CA, HP and IBM. Vendors such as Cisco, EMC, Microsoft and VMware are staking claims and striving to win customer favor.

Enterprise IT management technologies underwent an image makeover in 2009. No longer just the mandatory tools discussed by engineers troubleshooting problems, IT management capabilities such as automation and service delivery became central to discussions around adopting virtualization, cloud computing and other emerging technologies that high-tech executives want.

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The usual suspects -- CA, BMC, HP and IBM -- responded frequently to growing demand with technology updates, partnerships and purchases, but 2009 also saw some unexpected vendors move further into the management game. With acquisitions, alliances and product advancements, Cisco, EMC, Microsoft and VMware also incorporated management capabilities into larger strategic announcements, realizing there is money to be made in providing intelligent controls for advanced environments.

"The emergence of converged infrastructure solutions such as Cisco [Unified Computing System] and HP converged infrastructure are driving a significant range of systems management functionality closer to the hardware," says Mary Johnston Turner, research director for system management software at IDC.

Here Network World takes a look back at 10 significant moments (presented in no particular order) in the IT management market during 2009 that prove vendors across the board are prepping 2010's next big thing in management.

Infrastructure vendors make management moves

Much of the significant management news made in 2009 didn't involve familiar names such as BMC and CA.

Companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, EMC and VMware started gaining more attention for how their partnerships and product launches related to data center and policy-based management, typically only on the agenda for the market-leading 'Big Four' management vendors. That trend, according to industry watchers, could be the most notable news in the IT management market for 2009.

"All the infrastructure players are doing more in the management game, especially in the virtualization world, because for now, customers are turning to their infrastructure provider for their initial take on management capabilities. And management technology is a way to reduce total cost of ownership and obviously an opportunity for a new revenue stream," says Cameron Haight, research vice president covering IT operations management for Gartner. "The traditional management players are trying to figure out their relationship with those infrastructure vendors that are clearly augmenting their portfolios with management technology. This continuing progression from the infrastructure providers will be interesting to watch as former partners become competitors and management software makers look for ways to differentiate themselves from the pack."

Microsoft acquires Opalis

Microsoft in 2009 acquired the technology many industry watchers expect to be most in demand in 2010. Opalis offered customers IT process automation software, which all of the leading management software makers either developed or acquired. For instance, HP acquired Opsware, while BMC bought RealOps and BladeLogic. And CA and IBM organically developed automation technology.

"IT process automation became the mantra for all major IT operations management vendors," says David Williams, research vice president at Gartner.

The Opalis buy gives Microsoft the technology management vendors need to manage virtual systems as well as applications and services delivery via cloud computing.

"IT process automation is a real needed technology and it becomes more important when you talk about virtual systems because virtualization requires rapid responses, it requires things be done at automation speed, not human speed," says Andi Mann, vice president of research at Enterprise Management Associates. "Microsoft was one of the vendors in the dark on automation so this acquisition gives the vendor a chance to extend automation to Azure and other cloud environments, because cloud computing requires a level of workflow and orchestration that Microsoft could not have done well in the short-term on its own."

BMC acquires Tideway

Industry watchers say BMC didn't make industry-changing acquisitions in 2009, but the company did strengthen its product portfolio with the purchase of Tideway Systems. Tideway's Foundation product helps customers build a map of application components and the underlying infrastructure supporting the applications. This technology coupled with BMC's Atrium configuration management database (CMDB) could help the management software maker extend its business service management (BSM) efforts.  

"Worth mentioning are that two vendors that have tried to stay 'independent' have now been snapped up as well: Tideway -- application dependency mapping -- into BMC, and Opalis into Microsoft," says Evelyn Hubbert, senior analyst with Forrester Research. "BMC did have some functionality but this acquisition improves their capability across their solution platform."

Cisco launches Unified Computing System

Cisco's UCS not only had Cisco presenting an architecture alternative for enterprise IT executives, it also marked a recognition from the vendor that management technology is critical to larger infrastructure strategies. UCS involves Cisco-developed blade servers that would become part of an advanced architecture that incorporates network, computer, virtualization and management resources into a single system. And BM became for the UCS release the management resource provider chosen by Cisco. The partnership fueled other rumors that Cisco may make even bolder moves into the management market.

"Until recently Cisco never really appreciated that IT management is a set of complex, collaborative, interdependent processes which require more sophistication than their device monitoring and configuration tools. This is where BMC comes in -- they've been working on management issues forever," said Jasmine Noel, principal analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates, at the time. "I'm thinking there will be no hardware-only computing vendors by the end of this recession. The perceived customer value for hardware-only is too low. For customers with large data centers and server farms, the perceived value is having agile, policy-based computing and capacity management. Cisco, using next-generation Intel chips, could by itself deliver the first two parts, but not the management system."

CA acquires NetQoS

CA continued expanding its broad IT management software suite when for $200 million it acquired network performance management vendor NetQoS. The deal gave CA application flow capabilities that its Wily Technology acquisition didn't cover. The application performance management products from Wily coupled with NetQoS helped CA complete its application management portfolio.

"The acquisition is good because NetQoS has a focus on application delivery, so when combined with Wily, it offers a good one-two punch. Customers can visualize the links and relationships between the delivery technologies and the business applications and services with Wily, and understand the real-time application and service activity across those links and relationships with NetQoS traffic flows," Noel said.

The deal also marked a larger trend among management vendors in 2009, according to Gartner's Williams.

"Application performance management became the hot product in the availability and performance space -- this was attacked from all sides: traditional end-to-end J2EE type performance (CA Wily, Compuware, IBM Tivoli, HP, Dynatrace), network NetFlow (CA NetQoS, Opnet and Network Instruments) and end-user response time and behavior analysis (Knoa, Compuware/Gomez and Aternity)," Williams says.

IBM unveils Tivoli Live Monitoring Services

IT management software delivery models experienced some transformation in 2009, with several vendors offering their typically licensed software as services. IBM, for instance, packaged sophisticated technology such as Tivoli monitoring as easily digestible services paid via subscriptions. Tivoli Live Monitoring Services provides technology hosted in IBM's cloud computing environment, which enables IBM to provide customers with monitoring capabilities without large upfront investment or ongoing maintenance.

"Tivoli Live gives customers the ability to have hybrid service delivery models with one integrated console," says Al Zollar, general manager at IBM Tivoli. "On-premise or off-premise, the person working in the operations center is looking at the same dashboard. We wanted to be able to deliver the same service management software through flexible service delivery models and enable customers to adopt hybrid scenarios."

Industry watchers note that the leading management software makers developed software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings, in part in response to customer demand but also to better compete with newcomers such as Service-now.com

"The big news among IT management vendors was that they all announced SaaS offerings in some of their solutions," Forrester's Hubbert says. "This reflects the buying behavior we have seen with many of our customers where they want predictability in what they are spending on IT management solutions."

EMC buys Configuresoft

With a handful of management vendors already under its belt, EMC upped its management software game even more with the acquisition of Configuresoft

The company expanded on its OEM partnership with Configuresoft and acquired the software maker outright, which helped EMC broaden its management capabilities across the "entire IT information infrastructure," EMC executives said at the time. Configuresoft's Enterprise Configuration Manager (ECM) technology was already sold as EMC Server Configuration Manager, and Configuresoft's Configuration Intelligent Analytics (CIA) is sold as EMC Configuration Analytics Manager. EMC says the purchase will help customers automate management across virtualized environments. EMC also was able to unveil its Ionix brand, which incorporated the Configuresoft and other technology buys (Smarts, nLayers, Voyence and Infra).

"EMC buying Configuresoft basically enabled EMC to transform a relatively chaotic product line into a streamlined and strategic Ionix, which is a product set that definitely signals to BMC, CA, HP and IBM that EMC is serious about management," EMA's Mann says.

Compuware acquires Gomez

Another acquisition in the management market proved vendors recognize that customers want to deal with fewer vendors when trying to get control of their environments. As for application performance management, Compuware coupled with Gomez could help IT managers get a complete picture of internal and external environments.

"The internal monitors such as what Compuware offers don't do a good job of providing insight into the end-user experience and the external monitors can't see performance inside. The coupling provides a complementary viewpoint, a more complete end-to-end application performance management product," says Jim Frey, research director at EMA.

Compuware acquired Gomez to combine Compuware's application performance management technology with Gomez's Web site monitoring and Web application performance management.  The combination, according to industry watchers, could help Compuware win more customers and provide customers with more options in application performance management.

"In the short term, integrating information from Gomez into an APM solution becomes a strong argument in favor of Compuware's new strategy, and providing an integration between web monitoring services and Compuware's passive monitoring and APM is a plus for Gomez customers," Garbani wrote in a Forrester Research blog post. "Longer term, the combination of the two could lead to an SaaS end-to-end application performance management solution, something that should have a strong market appeal."

Cisco-EMC-VMware data center venture

Cisco's second significant management move involved a three-way partnership with EMC and its subsidiary VMware. The trio came together to launch its Virtual Computing Environment coalition and Acadia, which would offer training and education on how to use products developed by the coalition.

According to a report in Network World, "The products being developed by the [Virtual Computing Environment] coalition are called Vblock Infrastructure Packages. They are pre-integrated, tested and validated packages combining virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security and management products from the three vendors."

EMC's contribution to the joint data center venture was notably unified management software.  As part of the news blast, EMC also introduced Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager software, which the company says is "designed to support a wide range of enterprise management consoles." EMC says the product will manage Vblock Infrastructure Packages that are, according to press statements from the coalition members, "validated platforms of engineered, integrated IT infrastructure from Cisco, EMC and VMware, that deliver a breakthrough total cost of ownership and pervasive virtualization at a scale to meet today's most demanding use cases."

VMware's vSphere, SpringSource news

First VMware announced vSphere, which represented an overhaul of its virtualization platform designed to aggregate virtual resources in a data into one centrally managed computing poll.

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