IBM Ramps Up Service Management With Collation Acquisition

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A couple of weeks ago IBM announced that it had acquired a small privately held company named Collation Inc. As has become traditional in such moves the financial details of the deal were not revealed, but small as Collation is, this is a very interesting catch that should add significant value to IBM’s burgeoning Tivoli Service Management capabilities.

Over the course of the last year IBM has been discretely adding significant capabilities to its Service Management stack. At the core the company has continued to build its own change, configuration and asset management tools. It has also made some smart buys to add specialist technologies to the Tivoli stable, including the acquisition of Isogon with its Mainframe software discovery solution. Indeed, IBM has quietly built a federated Change Management Database and a sophisticated workflow engine. The purchase of Collation will allow IBM to add a layer of application dependency mapping to this solution stack—capabilities that will be warmly welcomed by organisations of all sizes.

So what exactly does Collation bring to Tivoli? The company’s Collation Confignia technology describes itself as “application infrastructure mapping software”. In essence Confignia utilises over 200, agent free, discovery sensors to establish the relationship between multi-tier applications and their use of the underlying IT infrastructure. The software discovers and identifies run-time dependencies and a huge range of configuration values established in the IT infrastructure. The out-of-the-box discovery covers most of the components, including Operating System patches and application objects, typically deployed in data centres in the application software, systems and network tiers. Results can be output as application infrastructure maps.

Knowledge linking business applications and the various components of the IT infrastructure on which they reside is of critical importance to those charged with managing IT service delivery, especially in these days when IT needs to be much more responsive to rapidly changing requests for service.

The possession of detailed resource dependencies can supplement the usual, though oft neglected, ‘knowledge’ that should be held in change management databases and will allow system and service managers to make much better informed decisions regarding upgrade programmes, security patching and the dynamic allocation of IT resources in the face of varying business demands as the overall IT infrastructure becomes more flexible.

In fact beyond these tasks, the Collation technology also assists with the rapid isolation of application service interruption as it can be used to identify if any changes have taken place in the underlying infrastructure supporting the application. There are very few, if any, organisations wherein change management is so robust as to make unplanned change impossible.

IBM Tivoli is committed to taking its rapidly growing service management solutions to the market, and not just to very large corporations. Service Management is important and offers IT managers the potential to actively engage with its customers. All of the major management software suppliers are developing service management solutions. Tivoli is poised to become a very influential player in this space if it can succeed in accurately communicating its capabilities to as wide a potential customer base as possible.