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BMC Eases Application And Infrastructure Dependency Mapping

In a development intended to make it easier for IT departments to understand how applications and infrastructure work together and depend upon each other, BMC Software has added collaborative application mapping to its BMC Atrium Discovery and Dependency Mapping (ADDM) product, now in version 8.3. Instead of having to work with IT to produce such maps, the new functionality means that application owners can provide a small amount of basic information, such as the application type and host names, to the IT department, which then uses ADDM’s search and query-building capabilities to discover information about the application.

"Discovering hardware is almost trivial now, especially with this tool, but apps on hardware have to be discovered by patterns, and you had to write patterns based on what you know," explains Michael Tomasiewicz, senior system and network administrator for ConAgra Foods, in Omaha, Neb., which has been using the product since its acquisition by BMC in 2009. Writing patters typically required a two-hour meeting with the people familiar with the application who could describe it, how many servers it used, where it was located, and so on. "They don’t have time to sit down and tell me what they already built," he says. "If I can provide them some upfront work and ask them if it’s accurate, we’re well on our way
to resolving it, as well as the initial discovery. It accelerates our ability to get things done in a hurry." He says he was also interested in other improvements in this version, such as memory handling and performance.

Dependency mapping helps IT departments make better decisions about hosting applications and determining the root cause of problems, says Bill Emmett, senior manager, solutions marketing, for Houston-based BMC. Other new features in version 8.3 include the ability to discover a broader range of physical and virtual servers, applications, and printers; improvements in usability with a Web-based user interface; and the Providence function, which provides multiple sources of information and correlates it for improved data accuracy, he says.

One of the biggest challenges of building out IT service models with IT service dependency mapping tools has been that, even if the tool has blueprints to help with discovery, there is still a lot of assistance and iteration work needed with people who "know" the app, says Ronni Colville, VP for IT operations management at Gartner. The new function in ADDM helps do the assistance and iteration more easily, and improves the time to discover and build the models, she says.

In addition, IT organizations are increasingly using SDM tools for data center initiatives, such as disaster recovery planning, data center consolidation and data center modernization, where there is no configuration management database. In addition, tools such as ADDM offer a way to capture what is deployed and how it's configured without the bigger project requirements for a CMDB, she says. The software, which runs as a virtual appliance, is available now and is priced starting at $350 per managed server.

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