Service Management Battles Begin

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The goal of aligning the use of IT systems more effectively with the ambitions and desires of ‘the business’ is now firmly established as a major priority in many organisations. This drive started as a desire to establish exactly where the IT budget was being spent in the complexity of the IT infrastructure. Recently however, efforts have slowly begun to transform into a desire to not only see where the money and effort is being expended but, much more importantly, to attempt where possible to align IT resource usage with goals set by the business itself. The major systems management vendors are right at the forefront of this adaptation.

The last couple of years has witnessed the large systems management software vendors place an increasing focus on ‘Service Management’, also known as ‘Business System / Service Optimisation’ and many other similar derivatives. CA, IBM Tivoli and BMC along with HP have all spent considerable sums building up their respective solution offerings. A large number of smaller ISVs are also actively engaged in the Service Management race.

I will come back to this subject many times over the next few months as the respective vendors flesh out their offerings. In this article I will focus on looking at a subtle, but incredibly important, development that is now well established within the SM providers, namely that they all agree—at least on the surface—on the need to architect their respective offerings with a recognition that the software platforms they deliver will need to interoperate with tools supplied by other software vendors.

For example, CA is building its offerings around the CA Integration Platform—in effect an enterprise service bus for Service Management. BMC and IBM (with the Tivoli IT Service Management Platform) have independently adopted similar high level architectures to accommodate the need to pull data from, and pass information to, a wide variety of tools and systems. Such approaches are sensible simply to allow the many potential components of its solutions to communicate and be easily administered.

Whilst it is always preferable to have sophisticated, universally accepted open standards on hand to facilitate such interoperability, we all know that the development and adoption of any form of widespread standard takes a long time. The welcome development is that all of the main players recognise that they need to play with the toys of other suppliers. They also acknowledge that the introduction of any Service Management solution cannot take place in a big bang, rip and replace fashion. Instead the vendors accept that Service Management will be introduced one cautious phase at a time, each step being designed to deliver rapidly real, and visible, business benefits.

It is good to see that an outward looking sensible approach appears to be behind the Service Management software developments. It is equally good to see recognition that process change and people management will play at least an equally important role to that of the software installed. Service Management is a desirable development. It will eventually become the defacto way of operating IT. In the mean time it is good to see that organisations with established complex environments will not have to throw out the baby with the bathwater as they look to build Service Management capabilities.