New tools show how systems affect business processes

Two software vendors this week unveiled packages designed to improve IT services management capabilities in corporations by giving officials greater insight into the relationships between parts of an IT system tied to a business process.

Relicore will bring out Relicore Clarity Version 4.0. Separately, BMC Software will unveil Topology Discovery. Last week, FrontRange Solutions released IT Service Management, a product built on the Microsoft .Net platform and primarily intended for midsize companies.

All three products aim to meet the needs of companies that have a strong desire to improve oversight of internal processes by following guidelines from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, said Mark Ehr, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc. in Boulder, Colo. The ITIL philosophy calls, in part, for companies to use a centralized configuration management database to store a huge assortment of information about settings on network elements, servers and applications. Such a database would let IT managers see the effect on the system if part of it fails, gains traffic or is reconfigured.

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Ehr said Relicore, a 4-year-old company with 12 large customers, "is one of the best secrets around." He predicted that its software will be imitated by large management vendors -- if the company isn't bought out. He noted that BMC's new Topology Discovery is "very similar" to Relicore's Clarity, but BMC built its application using technology gained by acquiring Marimba and Remedy.

Kurt Hansel, senior technical officer at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, said the bank will move to Relicore Clarity 4.0 at the beginning of 2005. J.P. Morgan has used Version 3.6 for more than a year on 50 servers that run an application called Cash on Line. More than 3,000 financial traders and cash managers use the application.

Clarity 4.0 will work with IBM Tivoli software at J.P. Morgan to give greater insight into system updates, such as a change to a configuration file, Hansel said.

Cheri Tipton, computer systems technician for the city government in Olympia, Wash., said the municipality purchased IT Service Management from FrontRange and will take it live in January. The new software will help the city be more proactive in handling system problems, she said.

With the old system, Tipton said, "we'd have a problem or incident and nobody knew what to do with it, since the root problem was hard to find." FrontRange will help manage systems used by 650 government employees in 24 buildings, she added.

Steve Balentine, a BMC product marketing manager, said Topology Discovery is the third piece of the Change and Configuration Management product group. The software builds and maintains a network map with application infrastructure information to provide modeling for IT services.

"Understanding the relationships between parts of the infrastructure is the wave of the future," explained Jasmine Noel, analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates in New York. "It's more than just a map of a business, but a picture of how a business service is using the infrastructure at this minute."

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