BMC CEO Bob Beauchamp thinks IT departments can only support business in the future by enabling self-service IT. Computer Weekly finds out why.
Systems management tools were traditionally used to manage servers and took an IT-centric view of problems. So dashboards would light up if disk space was low, or bandwidth or the processor were overloaded.
For Beauchamp, what really matters is the customer experience. "It doesn't matter whether the system is in the cloud or a 20-year-old computer. You have to know what the end user is expecting and what they are receiving. Then, if there's a problem, you need to be able to drill down and find where the problem lies."
The CIO has overall responsibility of the IT system, wherever that system resides. Modern monitoring tools need to look at cloud performance, networks, the IT systems. Beauchamp says: "You need to manage the whole stack."
Managing the internet of things
Looking at the internet of things, Beauchamp says process control is becoming a systems management issue. He says BMC is being called in to manage these systems in the same way systems management tools manage IT assets. But Beauchamp believes IT can learn from the process control industry, which, unlike IT, is based around simpler, less customised systems that have industrial scale. "We, as an industry, can learn to make things faster, lighter and cheaper, while process control can take advantage of the level of sophistication offered by this new generation of IT management tools."
When asked how cloud computing has changed BMC, he says: "Every time there is a new wave of innovation in the industry, it is good for our business because it shines a new light on how we will manage the new technology."
He sees cloud, along with social, mobile and analytics as drivers for systems management. "Customers are not considering management as an afterthought but as a forethought on designing how their systems will work. This makes management more relevant."
Why? Beauchamp says the design of modern applications makes use of resources in the cloud, legacy components and distributed IT environments – and possibly a mainframe system. The challenge for an IT department is managing this complex environment and, in particular, analysing the root cause of problems, provisioning extra capacity and handling the request for new services.
"These are traditional management disciplines but they must be designed anew to enable cloud, social, mobile and analytics," says Beauchamp.
We cannot have a hardwired IT management environment. To support the agile way of working, IT needs to support user provisioning of IT resources
In an age of agile methodologies, where IT is being asked to turn projects around quicker, some may think systems management becomes a bottleneck to getting the project deployed. Beauchamp believes IT must deploy applications quickly and take advantage of elastic, cloud infrastructure. “We cannot have a hardwired IT management environment. To support the agile way of working, IT needs to support user provisioning of IT resources."
And the management infrastructure needs to operate in a way that is impartial to where the system resides, irrespective of whether it is on premise or hosted in a cloud environment. He says: "This modern world where you have late binding IT infrastructure requires a policy driven systems management policy engine which is able to determine the best place to run the application."
The service driven IT department
IT organisations have to dramatically cut operations costs to free up budgets that can be invested in innovation.
He says: “So much of IT is manual, it is sticky, it is not automated and it is not agile.”
IT management tools are designed to enable the IT department to run IT more efficiently. "It is so important that your management architecture is designed in a way that means you do not have to throw it out every time some new piece of technology comes along." Beauchamp believes IT infrastructure needs to be a commodity and late binding such that the decision of where to deploy can be automated. "It becomes a digital supply chain for services."
More on systems management
Everything IT does begins with a request through IT service management. Behind this is a suite of provisioning, then there is system management and reporting. He says the goal of fully integrated IT management environment is to support a self-service automated IT environment.
BMC's vision takes an alternative approach to so-called system management frameworks. "We're not a framework. A framework means you have an architecture and you need to build IT management tools on top of this." BMC's approach is through an integration architecture called Atrium. "Our products are anti-framework. They can work standalone and can integrate with each other or even with third-party tools."
On 10 September this year BMC became a private company. For Beauchamp, this was a day to celebrate and look forward to a company with new freedoms. He says: "The day we went private I opened a bottle of champagne for my direct reports." Like Dell, which also went private in September, he says the company is now free from the limits imposed by wall street in terms of earnings per share.
“We can worry less about Wall Street. We can be bolder, less predictable and be more flexible with pricing and our investments. I think you will see more companies reprivatising."
Where will this new found freedom take BMC? Beauchamp says the company has an opportunity to become central to the management of digital services. He expects the wider IT industry will consolidate around products and services from a relatively small number IT providers. "We can become the defacto standard to manage the digital supply for the delivery of services. Let's buy the companies we need to buy, build what we need to build to become the company that customers come to for smart management of a digital supply chain."