BMC Software announced today it is launching an expanded set of cloud-management products and services, including a partnership with Amazon Web \n\nServices that is designed to help end-user companies keep control of data even outside their firewalls. The Amazon partnership is a differentiating factor for BMC, but it's not the most important part of this set of announcements or of BMC's cloud offerings \n\nin general, acknowledges Kia Behnia, BMC's chief technology officer.Cloud computing is an extension of virtualization \u2014 and virtualization is an extension of centralized data-center computing that requires process \n\ncontrol, automation and policy based controls to help both with the technical operation of the data center and with the company's ability to comply with \n\nfinancial and other regulations on what it can do with its data, Behnia says. ABC: An Introduction to VirtualizationThe market for cloud-based and all-in-one data-center management tools has become more crowded recently, with new packages, marketing \n\ncampaigns and new produces from EMC's new Ionix business unit as well as Dell, VMware, Microsoft, NetSuite, CA and a host of startups.BMC is extending its traditional systems management and business-process automation capabilities under the rubric of its Business Services \n\nManagement (BSM) banner, which includes service automation, support, service assurance, service automation and the Atrium management software and \n\nConfiguration Management Database (CMDB).The company promises to let customers create a single catalog to centralize the applications, services and policies governing resources available through \n\nboth internal and external data centers, expanding the ability to set, audit and maintain service levels on internal and external networks, and automate the \n\nprovisioning, deprovisioning, change, movement and control of applications, virtual servers and other IT asset, whether they reside on servers designated \n\nwithin an internal or external cloud, within a virtual infrastructure, or on a more traditional data-center server, Behnia says. The poor economy is helping to drive many customers toward virtualization and cloud computing because of the promise that both can provide more \n\ncentralized and efficient management of IT resources, Behnia says. The economy is certainly driving some interest in both technologies, but not just in the need for end-user companies to cut costs, according to Bob \n\nLaliberte, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group."There is a tremendous amount of hype around cloud right now, and all the systems management vendors are moving there because it's an inflection \n\npoint," Laliberte says. "Managing virtual infrastructures has become a real priority for most companies, and cloud is an extension of that, sometimes within the \n\ndata center, sometimes off-site. As customers change the way they do things, it presents and opportunity for HP or BMC or IBM to get in with customers \n\nthey couldn't before."Cloud is an opportunity for vendors, but it is also an opportunity for internal IT and data centers, Behnia says. Business unit managers who might chafe \n\nunder the restrictions that IT puts on use and location of data \u2014 to maintain compliance with financial, privacy or medical regulations \u2014 can \n\neasily buy themselves an on-call IT infrastructure using a credit-card and an external cloud-computing provider such as Amazon Web Services, he says. \n\nThat gives the business units more control of the resources they need and pay for, but puts the organization as a whole at greater risk by fragmenting \n\npolicies and technology controlling the use of data to comply with either corporate priorities or federal regulations, according to Deliver Cloud Benefits Inside \n\nYour Walls, a Forrester Research report BMC cites in its announcements. That's a major reason BMC chose to partner with Amazon, extending BMC's data-center and systems management capabilities to Amazon's cloud, and \n\ngiving IT managers the same ability to monitor, control, automate, forecast and track the use of IT assets on an external cloud as an internal one, Behnia \n\nsays."It's true, though, that most of the interest we hear is about internal clouds, in fact lots of CIOs seem Amazon and public clouds as competitors," Behnia \n\nsays. "They're being asked to do cost comparisons and explain why they don't offer similar pricing as public clouds."BMC is trying to help those customers fix the weaknesses of many clouds on security, compliance, adherence to internal Service Level Agreements and \n\nother issues without looking obstructionist by refusing to work with public cloud providers at all. "We're working with Amazon to provide a management layer that would sit on-premise at a customer's location to monitor and update those services," \n\nBehnia says. "That way, customers can make a policy decision on whether a certain request can be fulfilled through the Amazon cloud or an internal cloud \n\nand offer a single services catalog so they can offer what we call Happy Meal pricing \u2014 giving business units a set of standard items that are priced \n\nconsistently no matter where they're housed."That kind of unified picture of internal and external IT infrastructures is necessary for companies to effectively control costs and internal resources, \n\naccording to Tim Grieser, analyst at IDC. That's true, Laliberte says, but it's also true that vendors are trying to get ahead of the cloud-computing vision and offer management, security and \n\ncontrol over internal virtualized infrastructures as well as clouds that are, for the most part, either used for specific spikes in demand for compute power, or \n\nare in ongoing pilot programs. "A lot of CIOs are interested in internal clouds, but they're leery of the performance issues and security inherent in the cloud environment," he says. \n\n"BMC and EMC, with Ionix and HP and IBM are all trying to address that because cloud is a significant [turning] point. The reality is that not a lot of things \n\nare going into the cloud right now, though."