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July 20, 2009

BMC pushes business service controls out to cloud

Systems management tools an ‘enabling’ cloud technology

By CBR Staff Writer

BMC Software Corp has moved to position its service management software to be good for the management of resources provisioned across both physical and virtualised based application infrastructures, set up on-premise or off-site as a public or private cloud.

An initial milestone is the development of interface adapters for BMC’s Atrium Orchestrator change management tool that will allow administrators to invoke APIs in the Amazon EC2 storage service, and provision and de-provision storage resources held in a public cloud.

With organisations turning to EC2 for on-demand resource, such as when testing new applications, the compatibility and simultaneous management of both on-premise and cloud resources has been a growing concern. 

The arrival of a system that can control change requests in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud service in the same manner as internal on-premise resources are managed, promises significant operational benefits, the company said.

Herb van Hook, VP of corporate strategy at BMC, told us “Businesses want to capitalise on the architecture and operational design of cloud computing and, as part of that move, they realise they need to be able to manage access and control their use of public cloud services.” 

That poses some challenges, he said. “With VMs hosted by on-premise infrastructure we can see under the covers, we know on which physical server a virtual machine is sited and we understand the state and the physical nature of that server. We have no such visibility in the public cloud.”

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He said the work to link the BMC suite to the Amazon EC2 service via a self-service portal was a step in the direction of a unified management console, for the control of any and all business service resources. 

“We’d like businesses to use our portal rather than any of the others that are available for cloud services, and we believe there are benefits in doing so, especially if an organisation is following ITIL procedures,” van Hook added, saying it was the surest means of tracking and approving changes to cloud services. 

In the case of EC2, he explained that Amazon would assign a unique identifier and characteristics to a specific service, which could be stored in the BMC configuration management database just like any other business asset. It could then be managed as if it were effectively an on-premise resource.

Asset association and tracking of cloud services are integrated with BMC Atrium, and configuration compliance is enforced as a result, the company said. 

van Hook explained that interface adapters to other public cloud service can be expected over time. “Much as though we’d like to see a common set of APIs for public cloud services, the reality is that companies like FlexiScale, Rackspace, AT&T and Saavis all have their own APIs. We’re going to see the development of broker services between public and private cloud services, just as we saw the enterprise service bus develop around web services.”

Unlike other developments, however, where systems management software concerns were treated almost as an after-thought, management controls for cloud services are being seen as an enabling technology. “They are helping make cloud a reality,” van Hook claimed.

BMC reckons that this means the eventual establishment of private clouds as the next generation of automated and virtualised data centres, the establishment of a unified, actionable ‘service catalogue’ for internal and external IT services, and the establishment of a means of providing self-service request and fulfilment of cloud resources and services to users.

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